Great people photos are about building relationships

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/1600

Before you can introduce a subject using your camera to an audience you have had to have introduced yourself.

Here in Managua, Nicaragua we are teaching photographers/videographers how to make your photos work. Yesterday I watched one student shooting with a Nikon 5300 and 28-300mm lens. She was zoomed all the way out so her lens was actually a 450mm. She was so far away from the people and often shooting the sides or even the backs of people’s heads.

I pulled up photos like this above and showed her what I was getting. I helped her to see the importance of being engaged with the subject.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/200

I also realized I needed to show her what to try and then asked her to do the same thing.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 110, ƒ/5, 1/200

I even took photos up right next to a pastor preaching to show the congregation and give a different perspective to help engage the audience.

I asked her to follow me and shoot the same photos. She was getting the difference very quickly.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/1600

Now I can tell you and even show you that there is that one subject that may get a little upset with you like here. It just shows I may have moved too quickly. You do need to smile a lot to a subject if you don’t speak their language as I am doing here in Nicaragua.

If you want your audience to feel like they have been right were you are standing then you have to get close and to do that you have to build relationships with people.

Getting the Iconic travel photo

3 photos stitched together, Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/9, 15 sec

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/7.1, 20 sec

When I am traveling in a new town I like to try and get the Iconic image of the town, which is often a skyline shot.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

Big tip is to find the right time of day to get the photo if at all possible.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/10, 1/640

One of the iconic places in San Diego is the photo of the statue which is copy of the famous Alfred Eisenstadt’s V-J Day Kiss. Since I am here working on a Military Appreciation coverage I thought this would be a good b-roll image and stock image to use.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 3600, ƒ/7.1, 1/100

I even got a photo of The Hotel del Coronado which is another landmark in the San Diego area.

When I went to Seattle I did the same thing.

Nikon D4, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/6

I shot this photo and then waited for the sun to go down.

Nikon D4, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1 sec

For the skyline shots I used a tripod which kept the camera still and steady for the long exposures.

Playing Tourist in Atlanta & Mother’s Day idea

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

We haven’t played tourist in Atlanta for a long time and this weekend we decided to take in a couple of attractions. After doing this I would recommend this for a Mother’s Day present.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, ƒ/18, 1/100

I checked online about pricing for SkyView Atlanta. Here are the prices and you can click on the link to take you to their web page.

We drove down from Roswell and parked right next to SkyView. Walked right up and got on with no wait time at all.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.3, 1/250

Here are some of the sights from up inside the gondola. Due to shooting through the glass of the gondola sometime there were flairs that I couldn’t avoid.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.3, 1/250

You can see most of the major attractions from SkyView in downtown Atlanta. Here you can see the Olympic Rings in Centennial Park.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/320

Here is the World of Coke and you can also see the Georgia Aquarium, The College Football Hall of Fame, CNN, and the new Civil Rights Museum as well.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 180, ƒ/13, 1/100

Here we are inside the Gondola.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, ƒ/18, 1/100

We recommend taking the SkyView ride. While on the ride we noticed the Horse drawn carriage rides and decided to take one of those as well.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 220, ƒ/18, 1/100

We took the Nottingham Shire & Carriage ride around downtown. Here we are passing CNN Center.


$50 15 Minute Carriage Tour walk up only 

$100 Half Hour Carriage Tour 

$200 One Hour Carriage Tour 

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, ƒ/10, 1/125

Riding slow without a top that you would have in a car makes you look at the city in a different way. Slowing down and enjoying the scenery was worth the ride.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, ƒ/10, 1/100

We noticed some the architecture in buildings that we have never paid attention to in all our years living in Atlanta.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

Have you taken the time to be a tourist in your hometown?

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, ƒ/10, 1/125

Here we are driving down Luckie Street on our way back. SkyView and Nottingham Shire & Carriage rides are located at 168 Luckie St NW, Atlanta, GA.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, ƒ/10, 1/100

Camera Tips:

  • Daytime–your camera phone will work just great on sunny days.
  • Lens–I recommend lens like the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. It will cover the range for most everything you need.
  • Super Wide Angle–Only if you are trying to get a photo of everyone inside the Gondola
  • Small pop-up flash–you may want to use it to help with seeing under ball caps or helping with raccoon eye problems from the overhead sun
  • Keep it light–Don’t carry too much. You want to enjoy your time and not have your stuff crowding others and you on the rides.

Thinking and Shooting Cinematically with Fujifilm X-E2

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 18-55mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/8, 1/125

Learning to think “Cinematically” when framing your images is to think about the end user. Today more than ever most of my audience will experience my images on-line through the internet.

Computer displays with aspect ratios wider than 4:3 are also called widescreen. Widescreen computer displays are typically of the 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio. In 2008, the computer industry started to move over from 4:3 and 16:10 to 16:9.

Basically most of today’s audience that is working on a computer newer than 2008 are using a widescreen and most likely with a 16:9 ratio.

Now when shooting for print I am considering magazine covers.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 18-55mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/8, 1/125

This vertical photo would work much better for a cover of a typical magazine rather than the horizontal.

How it would look on a computer screen

Fill the frame horizontally. This is even more true with video. Turn your smartphone horizontal when making movies. If you don’t the image will be shrunken to fit the horizontal limits of the screen.

So two things you are doing to make an inferior photo/video. First the images will be displayed even smaller than if they were shot horizontal, second you give up visual impact.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 18-55mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/8, 1/125

Learn to see not just edges of the photograph, but from front to back of the photo.

How this would look on a computer screen without cropping

Composition Tip

When photographing like a tourist where you want to capture you friends and family at the different locations you are visiting here are some quick tips to compose a more effective photo.

  • Start with the background. Compose first for what your subjects will stand in front of for the photo. Fill the frame to the edges as I have done here.
  • Have subjects closer to the camera and not closer to the background.
  • Move the subjects around to find the best place where you can easily see them and the place. Be careful that they don’t block so much of the background that you no longer know where they are for the photo.
Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/20, -1EV, flash 0 EV Slow Sync
When shooting at dusk or night here is another tip. underexpose the background by -1 EV. That is one stop under. I do this with dialing the EV dial and keeping the camera in Aperture priority, and Auto ISO. Then just add flash. Here I didn’t compensate with the flash, but you may need to experiment with it.
What this does is pull the subject out from the background using the light value to do so. Because the flash is on Slow Sync the camera will figure out the best exposure without the flash and then the flash will just be added just enough using the TTL function of the camera flash.
If you put your photos into a typical video I recommend filling the frame and therefore you may end up with a little crop top and bottom of the typical 4:3 ratio camera to the typical 16:9 ratio for video.
If you start to crop photos to dimensions other than the 16:9 or 4:3 to something more like a square you will be giving up space on the screen, which for the most part will diminish the impact of the photo.
My suggestion is to learn how to fill the frame of your camera and not rely on post production.

“God gave you two eyes side by side and not top and bottom so learn to compose for the eyes.” Robin Nelson.

The best photo is often the difference is as clear as Night and Day

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/600 [3 images stitched together in PhotoShop CS6] Hand held

It is a Night and Day difference between these photos. Maybe we need to remember that saying next time we travel.

I just find that few photos from the middle of the day stand up to dusk and night time photos.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/11, 1/5 seconds [three images stitched and the photo was shot on tripod with a 2 second delay to eliminate camera shake]

Major difference to me between the two photos.

Couple of quick tips for shooting the night time shot.

  • Use Tripod
  • Use cable release or shoot on delay [I used a 2 second delay]
  • Shooting ƒ/22 will give you a star effect around the lights. I shot at ƒ/11
  • Also this is a great way to eliminate many of those pesty power lines

Two of the most made travel photography mistakes


The number one mistake I see most often made by people traveling with their camera is not having enough fresh batteries.

Depending on your camera and flash you may need more than just one extra battery. My Nikon D4 camera can go most of a day shooting still images with one battery, however, if I start to shoot video or spend a lot of time reviewing images on my LCD then I can drain the battery and need a second.

My Fuji X-E2 goes through batteries and I have used all three batteries in a day before.

I recommend having at least one extra battery and before you leave for the day of shooting be sure both batteries are fully charged.

Every evening before you turn in for bed, be sure to recharge all your batteries. That way in the morning they will all be ready for another full day of shooting your travel.

Memory Cards

It is much easier to carry a few extra memory cards on a trip than it is to carry a laptop computer.

When this is a once in a lifetime trip it is wise to keep all the images on cards until you have them all on your computer and backed up in another location as well before formatting your cards.

Memory Card Tip

Always format your cards in your camera and not on your computer. The camera will do a better job of not just clearing the cards but creating the proper directories needed for the card to work properly with the camera.

Photography tips from our workshop in Lisbon, Portugal

James Dockery, coordinating editor for ESPN, talks with David White and Amanda Ross about how to improve their photos and showing them on the camera some settings that made a difference. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/90] 

We have been having to address some digital workflow issues this week with a few students. After going through this I thought you as a reader of the blog might enjoy hearing what problems many were having and how to avoid them.

Free Space

The number one issue we had with many of the students was the amount of free space they had on their laptops. They had no room to add software, photos and video due to being so full.

Good rule of thumb is to have about 20% of free space on your hard drive.

Filling your hard drive until it’s almost full is just recipe for a disaster. First, your computer needs some free space for creating swap space to manage memory use. Even when you have adequate RAM, the operating system will reserve some space at startup for memory swap space. In addition, individual applications usually use some disk space for temporary storage.

On a Macbook Pro go to the hard drive. Highlight it and then hit ⌘-I and it will show you the free space on your computer.

More free space is great but try to have a minimum of 20% free. This is a good place to read about my workflow for photos if you want to know what to do.

Here James Dockery, Amanda Ross and Jeff Raymond are in downtown Lisbon waiting to eat at Restaurante Cabacas. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/9, 1/2.5, flash is bounced across the alley into the wall to help fill in on their faces] 

Shoot, Edit, Review & Shoot Again

The ideal way to do a story is to shoot it and then review your work. After editing all the work see what is missing and then schedule more time to go back and shoot some more.

All our students have spent time with their subjects and then everyone has gone back to shoot even more photos and video to improve their story.

Amanda Ross is shooting and reviewing what she is doing as she goes. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 25600,  ƒ/3.7,  1/60]

Crank the ISO up

When you are out shooting street scene at night, crank your ISO up so you capture the moment. If you have a Fuji X-E2 you can shoot at ISO 25600 and still get OK quality photos. Yes there is a little noise, but you will be surprised at what you can get at high ISO on some of the newer cameras.

The photo of the lady with the camera above is shot at ISO 25600. Then the photo below is shot at ISO 400 in the middle of the day. Yes the noise is non-existent at ISO 400 but I can live with the quality of the 25600, especially when the choice is no photo at all in this low of light.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/800] 

Shoot Textures

When you travel just shoot the textures you find. You can use these later for title slides or backgrounds for lower third title slides.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4, 1/500] 

Photos from Sintra, Portugal and Moorish Castle

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 250, ƒ/13, 1/125

We are having a lot of fun here in Lisbon, Portugal this week working on our storytelling. We have taken some breaks like here where we went out to grab some snacks and on the way back stopped and got some photo of the landscape.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 800, ƒ/13, 1/500

Here two of the students climbed on top of a van to shoot over the chainlink fence.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/280

Here is one of the pastries we enjoyed while taking a break and learning more about the culture of Lisbon.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/16, 1/500

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/3.7, 1/1000

Later today we went over to Sintra, Portugal where we went to the Moorish Castle.  Here are some photos that I took while climbing around the castle.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.9, 1/850

Some of the tips I can tell you from our outing is to be sure you have your camera with you all the time and be ready for those special moments. I took with me on the excursion today the Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm and the 55-200mm. I also had two extra batteries which I did need one of them.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/800

Most of the time I had the 18-55mm on the camera which let me shoot some semi wide-angle shots and then some portraits like of this lady in front of one of the shops.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/4.4, 1/500

I love using the 55-200mm to pick out some closeup shots of elements around the streets of Sintra, Portugal. You can isolate things from all the clutter of the streets.

I hope you enjoy some of the places we have been with our class on Storytelling this week. Later I hope to share some of the stories the student have put together this week. They are still interviewing people and editing their projects. Stay tuned.

Remain Calm and Steady for great Travel Photos

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/22, 1.1 sec

One of the things many people decide to leave at home when traveling is there tripod. However, this is one of the most useful tools when traveling for this photo for example. I was able to stop down the lens to an aperture of ƒ/22 to then create a star effect from the lights.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/35

The lower photograph doesn’t have the star effect due to the shallow DOF [Depth-of-field].

One of my favorite thing to do in new locations is to shoot sunrises and sunsets. Just as fun is those photos just after the sunsets like the ones here that you can still see some blue sky.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/30

You can see some in our group using the tripod to get their shot. I recommend carrying a cable release or to use about a second delay timer to trip the shutter so you do not introduce any camera movement when firing the camera.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/3.2, 1/5

Here the shutter speed is 1/5 of a second which made the people in the train station in Lisbon, Portugal blur. In this situation I put the camera on a column to keep the camera perfectly still.

My recommendation is to find a tripod that folds up very small and yet will go up pretty high to around eye level when standing. They make carbon fiber tripods that are very light and just as good but not quite is light is some of the aluminum made tripods.

When you travel give yourself a little time to acclimate

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/500

I am teaching a class with two of my friends Jeff Raymond, from ABWE, and James Dockery, ESPN, this week in Lisbon, Portugal. Our first day of class is Monday, which is today.

Yesterday we let the students shoot around the area just to get acclimated to the time zone change. These photos are while we went around Lisbon and nearby to just take in some of the sights.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/500

I shot this one of the palace while we drove by it. Keeping my shutter speed pretty high helped me not worry about the camera movement due to the van we were in at the time.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/4.5, 1/800

I would always suggest a little time to acclimate to the location before diving quickly into the story. One of the reasons is if you have never been to that part of the world you are getting to feel the location and not just react immediately as you would be doing while telling the story.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 7200, ƒ/8, 1/100

Here is James Dockey, an editor for ESPN TV, that is enjoying conversing with the lady at the coffee shop and some of the students in the class we are teaching. One of the best ways to acclimate is to eat the food and enjoy their coffee.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 4500, ƒ/8, 1/100

Here James is with the ladies who served us and the espresso and some pastries. While this was James’ food I got the same. WOW that was delicious.

We are now all rested and adjusted to the time zone and ready for diving into our storytelling on Lisbon for the rest of the week. Stay tuned for some more from Lisbon.