What a thrill it was to get the chance to go up in helicopter and see the lava flowing at the Kīlauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dorie and Chelle gave me this present for father’s day.
While I had been in helicopters many times clients paid for the experience. This time it was out of our pockets. I had wanted to do this for years.
I have been coming the The Big Island of Hawaii at the invitation of my good friend Dennis Fahringer. I have been teaching photography to his School of Photography students with the University of Nations which is part of Youth with a Missions.
Now for 12 years I have been coming driving to the Volcano hoping for good photos. I have made some pretty good photos through the years. Here is one from February this year before they closed the Volcano National park due to the recent activity.
Really the best way to see the volcano is from the air.
This is an untouched photo right out of the camera. Just converted from Nikon NEF to a JPEG.
By shooting RAW you can then work with the photo in Lightroom just like we did in the film days in the Darkroom.
The number one tool that helps you when shooting from a helicopter is the Dehaze Slider.
There is a lot of haze created by the atmosphere and over the volcano with VOG you need to use this tool or the haze just clouds the photos literally.
Just compare this photo of Rainbow falls that I processed to the unprocessed photo.
Now here are two short videos I shot while up as well. I processed these in Final Cut Pro X and also corrected the footage for better contrast and color.
Your old photos can look even better today due to the advances in technology. I went back to this photo of my daughter’s first day of school ten years ago to re-edit the photo in the latest version of Adobe Lightroom.
Now you may like the earlier edit, but there are more possibilities with a few changes in Lightroom. First of all they did a major overhaul of the main engine in the software and then adding new tools like Dehaze.
Today you can pick a color profile and use Dehaze that were not options in 2010.
Another control that was implemented since 2010 was Lens Correction improving all lenses by correcting for their imperfections.
Back in 2010 I didn’t even try to edit this photo. With the dehaze control I was able to bring down the background much easier than doing this in 2010 would have required.
Shoot RAW – you have more information to work with before exporting a JPEG in Lightroom Folder for RAW and separate folder for JPEG – I ingest and put all my RAW files into a folder and then when I finish editing and export I put those in a separate folder JPEG Archive all photos – Keep the RAW images and your JPEG images. You can later return to these photos and discover some gems due to the software improvements in the future.
With today’s cameras you can shoot most anything without a flash. You know this from using your smartphone. What you might not know is that professional photographers don’t use flash because there isn’t enough light, but rather to compliment the light.
Using flash outside and inside is about knowing why you need the flash and how it can improve the photograph. These photos are from my job yesterday.
I enjoy Cow Appreciation Day each year. This year I went to five different Chick-fil-A restaurants in Metro Atlanta getting photos of customers dressed up as cows.
Chick-fil-A, known for its iconic “Eat Mor Chikin®” Cows, celebrated the 13th annual Cow Appreciation Day on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. On that day, Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide offered a free entrée to any customer who visited a restaurant dressed as a cow.
I have learned over the years using off camera flash improves so many of the photos and especially outside. This one of the customers inside without the flash the visors would have made their faces much darker. The flash helped open up their faces.
Dorie Griggs, my wife, was my photo assistant for the day. She helped with carrying my light and keeping people from bumping into it as well as people blocking the flash.
One more super important role she filled was helping me get the all important Model Release.
A model release form is a legal document between you, the photographer and the person or the person who owns the property you’re photographing). It is the written form of their permission allowing you to publish their image on your website, blog, and marketing materials.
You need permission to publish the photo for commercial purposes.
When I did the photo at the top I first shot this photo of the cows jumping. Well I didn’t expect the cow to jump with the feet that wide and I cut off the feet.
My wife made a video of me taking this photo where you can see the off camera flash Godox V860IIN that I am triggering with the Godox X1NT. Watch here and you can see both photos being made.
These flashes let me shoot at any shutter speed. This let me freeze the cows in the air. Just remember that one of the best times to use flash is outside in bright sunlight.
Now shooting inside the flash will not over power the available light when set on TTL. The flash just fills in and gives that wonderful catch light in the eyes that makes them sparkle.
Just so you can see how the flash just adds a little without greatly changing the photo this first photo of the lady with the cows is without flash. Then look at the one with flash.
The biggest difference is that the shadows and blacks in the one with flash have more detail.
Dorie, my wife, knew when making plans for our children when they were young that there was a time limit. It was about 2 hours and then it was as if we hit a wall.
We like being at a fair: there are rides, games, entertaining acts, and tons of food. It’s exciting at first, then it becomes overwhelming, and finally it makes you sick (and you hate it!).
When you’re sick of something it shows in your attitude and performance most of the time. Just like our kids would be at places like Disney World.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.
Often we hit the wall in our careers just as we did when we were young. It isn’t fun for us any more. If you are a freelancer you can feel that you are just not in step with your client as you once were.
I have discovered this happens with every client that I hit a wall at some point. It is the same feeling that happened with our kids on an outing.
I think what happens is we have become too focused on what we do in our jobs and less on the people that we work with in doing those jobs. This can happen to you if you are extroverted or introverted.
Too much focus can be a problem: It drains your brain of energy, makes you care less about people, and prevents you from seeing what is happening around you. When you become more focused on say a product that you are producing in a job rather than realizing you are working with other people and they need to enjoy the process and not just the end result.
I came to this conclusion when over the years I find that I must rekindle a working relationship. In the past I would work on my portfolio or some new skill to talk to my client. I was thinking the client needed to see my skills are valuable.
While working on some materials this latest round of rekindling relationships I realized that no matter what I did it was going to look like I was going to do some “Explaining” to the people in the meetings I was setting up.
This approach can be very condescending to others. It actually undermines the relationship that you are trying to nurture.
Thinking about his it really hit me – I had not worked enough on the relationship with my clients.
In your work have you been measuring using your skills in our work as well as developing relationships?
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
We spend a lot of time at work; there is nothing worse than someone who cannot get along with others. It’s so important and involves being helpful, understanding the unwritten rules, being respectful, reliable and competent.
Here is a simple way to start this conversation, “We’ve been doing business together for almost a year. I’d like to take you to lunch to get to know you a little better.”
The single most important thing you can do at a business meal is to listen. You want to hear what the other person cares about, what their interests are, what makes him or her tick. They need to know you care about them as people and not just the money they give you to pay your bills.
One time we were at Disney and we ran into my daughter’s friend from home. While normally our daughter would be ready for a break from the theme park this “Relationship” gave a burst of energy to go through not just our daughter but the entire family.
Theme parks can be like your product in business. At a certain point this really isn’t going to keep your client enthused. Remember friendships do keep your help energize business relationships as well.
The key for fireworks is the foreground. The context helps give a sense of place.
When I started shooting the July of 4th fireworks this year in Roswell, GA the location was slightly different than years past. I wasn’t sure exactly where they would be in the sky. I had a general idea, but when they started I had a few problems.
As the sun was setting then all the street lights in the parking lot we were in started to come on. When I first started shooting this is what I was getting. The street light was creatine a flair and wasn’t very interesting. The street lights were distracting.
By using a tree in the parking lot to help with the street light it also blocked some of the lower flying fireworks.
I picked up the tripod and went closer to the shops and pointed the camera towards the high school where the fireworks were being launched. It gave me the best photos of the fireworks and making the street lights no longer a problem, but you only see a couple in the lower left.
I determined that the best place was to shoot the fireworks really wide with 14-24mm lens. This let me show all the community that turned out for the fireworks and helped to tell the story.
Earlier in the fireworks performance I shot this with my Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4 at 58mm. Fireworks look great, but this could be anywhere in the world. The wider shot helped me to show you what it looked like where I was in Roswell, Georgia.
Carry a couple different lenses so you can change your approach if necessary. Be willing to move to get a different perspective. Most of all take lots of photos. Only a few will be the keepers that you want.
Shutter Speed: 5 seconds to 14 seconds [using Bulb]
White Balance: Fluorescent to match the Street Lights
I used a tripod and a cable release. I would start taking photo and stop after 2 to 4 fireworks would go off.
Getting a well exposed and color correct photo will bring the most out of any subject.
When your photo is well exposed you will see all the gradations on a gray scale. When you have your digital camera set to the proper white balance under flash you get the most dynamic range possible.
The color space of flash is dead center in the color wheel. Other lights like Tungsten, Fluorescent, Mercury Vapor, LED and others are skewed off center of the color wheel. While you can color correct these images by adding or subtracting colors to try and slide them back to the center your color is never as good as under pure flash.
I shot this photo outside in the shaded side of my house. I color corrected using “Custom White Balance”.
Using the ExpoDisc I put this over the front of the lens and did a incident light reading and custom white balance.
I do this when shooting in studio because soft boxes often have a slight color cast that I can correct.
I cannot stress enough that the one thing that really separates the very top photographers from the rest technically is normally white balance.
Color’s pop when your exposure and color balance are on target.
When you use flash outside you can get much better lighting on people’s faces.
You can see the difference between these two photos. I was demonstrating this technique in Kona, Hawaii to the YWAM School of Photography class a few years ago. I shot this wide so you can see how the assistant must walk with the people and stay slightly ahead of them, but close to them.
Here I cropped out the assistant, which when I am shooting a job I have them out of the frame, so I do not have to crop. Hopefully you can see how the lighting is helping the photo here.
I showed how to do this with hotshoe flashes and with the studio strobes. The advantage of the larger strobe was the ability to stay farther away from the subject, due to a lot more powerful strobe.
Before walking and talking I started by showing the class how using fill flash off camera works. Here there is no flash and the subject is back lighted.
Here just using the hot shoe flash off camera I was able to shoot at a faster shutter speed of 1/8000 due to the HSS [High Speed Shutter] technology now available for most cameras. This let me darken the sky quite a bit.
I have found that getting the sun behind the subject allows the subject to stop squinting. Then by adding the flash off camera the light is creating some modeling to the face as well as lighting up the face.
For the “Walk and Talk” I ask subjects to stay very close to each other. I even say every once in a while you should feel the other person touching you. I also ask them to make eye contact. I generally have one person talk and the other person listen.
Try this technique sometime with your subjects. If you like you can hire me to work with you or your group to teach this in a workshop.
SOBERING statistics published earlier this month show that the annual rate of suicide in the US has risen by almost 28 per cent between 1999 and 2016.
I believe this is affecting businesses as well as individuals.
Both celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade committed suicide this month and has helped to open the can of worms which many people today are experiencing. That topic is depression.
For this topic I believe many of us are experts. Almost everyone will go through events in their lives that cause upheaval and crisis.
Depression causes one to look for relief. Many who are dealing with addiction started with some sort of depression.
I believe in today’s economy I am seeing signs that companies are showing signs of depression.
Today many are trying to be the one man band and do it all. Just look at some of the advertising campaigns which are not so much cohesive as just everywhere.
When you are depressed you are prone to reach for things that give you pleasure, but are not always the best for you. Ask any addict.
So many of us are looking for Likes or comparing our life to other people’s Facebook feeds.
We have now gone for just liking a post to loving, laughing, wow, sad and even mad.
We are losing our compasses on how to navigate life. We are now looking to measure what is good or bad based on skewed analytics.
Opioids are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia. Many in business reach out for things like an opioid to make them feel better. That person has more followers than us lets hire them. They can make it better. Remember opioid not only can relieve pain it can anesthetize you. I think many in business today are operating in a fog.
Communications departments have moved away from what is a solid story to choosing to use work based on the content providers social media feed of likes and number of followers.
Teaching in college and in workshops I experience more students who feel like they are already good photographers based on their social media likes from friends.
Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York said, “Photography felt like a treasure hunt, and even though I sucked at it, I’d occasionally stumble upon a diamond. And that was enough to keep me wanting more.”
Stanton’s success is based in one simple truth–Everyone Has A Story!
People were drawn to his storytelling and yes this ultimately led to him having a huge following, but he didn’t go out and find someone doing something and copy it. He just went with his interest in the people on the streets of NYC. At first he focused on those who were visually exotic, but slowly he discovered that everyone had a story.
Instead of you trying to find the next “Cool Trend” why not go with storytelling.
Stories allow the listener to learn vicariously and discover lessons seemingly on their own.
Stories make us feel a part of the situation.
Storytelling is tapping into people’s emotions that will help you to influence or persuade them.
Stories build connections between people. Those who tell stories are the ones building strong connections with their audience.
Storytelling is powerful because it engages the entire brain. A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect.
Let me work with you and make your stories visual so that they more engaging.
Give me a call and let’s capture the stories of how your business continues to transform people’s lives. It will lead to more business.
If you have a 200mm lens on your camera then the slowest you want to handhold the camera to take an in focus photo is 1/200.
Now in this case where the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is speaking I am on a tripod shooting at 600mm. Since she is not moving all that much I was able to shoot at 1/100 because the camera is on a tripod.
When you are shooting something where the subject is moving and the camera is moving to capture an image as in sports you need a really fast shutter speed.
I can tell you in this photo the football players are moving very fast. Over the years I have come to realize I need to have the shutter-speed up pretty high to get sharp photos.
When I started shooting sports with film the highest ISO I could shoot was ISO 1200. This kept me shooting around 1/500 for most sports.
Only during day games was I able to get truly razor sharp images.
Besides shooting at 1/4000 shutter speed I am also using a monopod.
Most photographers on the sidelines of a football game use a monopod to help steady the camera.
Out of Focus
If your subject isn’t moving that much, like my person speaking, start by switching from multi-point to single-point focusing. On many cameras there is either a joy stick or pad that lets you move your focus point around. Move this to the person’s face and as close to the eyes as you can.
You need to know that your camera has limits and certain situations are difficult for the camera’s technology to properly work. Here are some for you from my Nikon D5 camera manual.
ToO Shallow Depth-of-Field
If your lens is wide open at an aperture of say ƒ/2.8 or wider ƒ/1.4 then the depth-of-field is quite shallow. The other piece affecting this is how close you are to the subject.
The closer you get that depth-of-field will get even more shallow.
The top of the line cameras tend to have the best focusing systems which will track with subjects allowing you to get that razor sharp image. It is the combination of the best quality lenses and cameras that can allow you to shoot wide open and get sharp photos.
However if you cannot afford a 300mm ƒ/2.8 lens and have a 300mm ƒ/5.6 lens while you think that the depth-of-field is greater your photos may not be in focus because the lens is too dark for the camera sensors to focus.
The other problem you may have is you have a fast lens, but the focus system is just struggling to keep the subject in focus. This is where you close down the aperture to give you a little more wiggle room in the depth-of-field that your photos are still sharp.
In film and television production, B-roll is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot. This can be still images, video and even graphics.
The overall goals and pace of your video should help determine the length of of your B-roll shots. Say you have a longer support video demonstrating a specific process to your customers. Those illustrative shots might be 20 to 30 seconds long, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
Having a still image up for 20 – 30 seconds can be made more interesting by zooming in or out as well as panning across the image. We call this the Ken Burns effect is a type of panning and zooming effect used in video production. The name derives from extensive use of the technique by American documentarian Ken Burns.
Just like music has a beat, most interviews have a similar feel. The very best editors have a good feel for finding that beat and pacing to then know when to start and stop B-Roll clips.
Literal vs Abstract B-Roll
When I took a course in church music during my seminary days the professor helped me understand how a creative [organist for example] can help lead people in worship. He divided music that an organist plays when people are coming into worship, leaving or during the service can be literal or abstract.
When the organist plays “Amazing Grace” this is literal, because people so know the song that the begin to sing it in their heads and sometimes even out loud when they hear the music.
However if the organist starts to play something like Mendelssohn wrote, which is often music that isn’t associated with words then the people can let their mind wander. The organist can create a mood, but how the people hear it individually will let their mind wander. This is abstract type of music.
My suggestion is to use literal B-Roll when you can show something about which relates directly to what the person is talking about. For example if they are talking about their parents then a pan across their dresser to a photo of their parents works quite well.
Now often during interviews people are talking about things in the past or even future. This is where often abstract B-Roll works great.
When someone reflects on growing up some where this is a great time to use nature shots from that area. It is kind of like helping the audience dream with them as if they are thinking back and looking out their window or like they are driving down the road looking out the car window.
Flowers blowing in the wind or a person’s hand moving through a field of flowers can work as an abstract. Seeing rain hitting a puddle or a stream of water flowing can be quite soothing.
Closeups of tools can work great as well. Seeing the blade cut wood verses a wide shot of a person cutting wood can often look more abstract. Closeup of welding that goes from out of focus to in focus is another way to create abstract B-Roll.
There are many times you need to transition the audience from one scene to another in the storyline. This is where B-Roll of a door opening and closing or having someone walk through a scene can help you transition to a new thought.
Video portraits are quite popular today for B-Roll. They can work with transitions as well. This is where you roll for 20 to 30 seconds on a person with video verses the still portrait. I would advise getting a lot of different takes if using this technique. Have the person look out a window. As they look out the window have them turn and look into the camera. Reverse that and do another take.
Have people look into the camera and they then walk away with the camera following and another time staying still.
Have them go from pretty expressionless face to anger or smile. Start your shot out of focus and then go in focus. Start in focus and then go out of focus.
With video you are capturing motion. You can keep the camera still and have the environment moving or you can move the camera within the environment.
Car scenes are notorious with showing motion. You can have camera stationary on the person while they are driving. The windows are like cinema screens showing life happening around them as they are driving.
Shooting from another vehicle you can drive along side them to give a sense of context.
Type of shots
You have a variety of types of shots which I encourage you to get lots in each category for easier editing later.
Wide Shot – helps to establish the context Medium Shot – often two people close together or where you are seeing the subjects hands type of distance Tight Shot – This is often where you are just showing the face. You are letting the face expressions help tell the story. More than 50% of most movies are the tight shot. Close-up – These are the detail shots. Where you see someone’s ring on their finger, pouring a cup of coffee, the cork on a bottle of champaign being opened.
You can never have enough B-Roll. I have never heard this said in an edit suite that what were they thinking giving me all this B-Roll. I do hear it over and over that there is not enough.