FOCUS : Snake River Overlook

28 01 2010

Webisode ONE of my FOCUS series. This webisode highlights a photograph I took of Kristina while I was attempting to recreate Ansel Adams’ famous Snake River Overlook photo.

If you have a photo that you would like featured on FOCUS please drop me a via Email

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com





10 Bands To Photograph

26 01 2010

Here is a list of my 10 favorite bands to photograph and a couple of words in summary…

10. Mickey Avalon: Unpredictable on stage (photo)
9. Crowfield: New band to me & great music (photo)
8. Black Carl: Emma’s vocals (photo)
7. Death By Stereo: Hardcore from the crowd (photo)
6. Rusted Root: Great vibe (photo)
5. Agnostic Front: NYHC Legends (photo)
4. What Laura Says: Great on stage (photo)
3. Cage The Elephant: Next generation punk rockers (photo)
2. Rev. Horton Heat: Perfect lighting (photo)
1. Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers: Always a challenge – Great stage presence (photo)

I am proud of my list’s diversity. Each show was a very different experience which is why they stand out in my mind.

Agnostic Front : Yucca Tap Room / Tempe, AZ

What bands do you like to see live? Have you ever photographed their concerts? As always, we want to hear from you. Leave a comment and if you shot photos of the show add a link to share them.

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com





Concert Photography 101 : Basic Camera Settings

22 01 2010

Death By Stereo : Yucca Tap Room / Tempe, AZ
Taking great photos at concerts has everything to do with knowing how to use the proper settings on your camera. I don’t care if you are shooting with a $750 camera or a $7,500 camera. If you don’t know how to use it under specific concert circumstances – you will not get the shot.

Before the show there are a couple of things I think about. Have I ever seen a show at this venue before? What access restrictions do I have? Is there a photo pit? These questions all lead up to the final question: What is the lighting like at the venue?

Light dictates all of my decisions regarding camera settings.

ISO: The simplest definition of ISO is the measure of film’s sensitivity to light. In digital photography ISO measures the digital sensor’s sensitivity to light. (For a complete explantion: click here)

I set my ISO to the lowest available setting that produces a properly lit image. I don’t like to shoot at ISO 1600+ because of the noise or extra grain in the photo. With that being said – there are situations where it can not be avoided.

How Do I Know What ISO Setting Is Right? There are two ways to quickly determine ISO settings – Test shots or live view. Use your camera’s live view mode to see when you need to push (increase) the sensor’s speed. Live view is helpful to confirm settings before and during all my concert shoots.

Shutter Speed and Lens Aperture: As I mentioned in my previous Concert Photography 101 post, before I was comfortable shooting in manual mode I relied on TV (or shutter priority mode.)

Why? For most venues I tend to max out my lens’ aperture at 1.8 or 2.8 – so there is very little thinking about aperture. When shooting in shutter priority the aperture is automatically adjusted by the internal light meter (we’ll get into metering in the next post) as I alter the shutter speed. Again use your camera’s live view function to preview the photograph. It’s typical for me to change shutter speeds as the stage lights change. Often I go from 1/125 to 1/45 during one or two songs.

These three things (ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speeds) are the simplest way to get on the right path to taking good concert photos. I suggest you practice at your house and get a feel for how your camera reacts to different light. A good experiment is to turn on all the lights in a room – take a couple of photos with different settings. Do the same with medium and dim light. Review the photos and document the settings. Why would you wait until the night of the event to experiment?

If you visit my Flickr gallery you can view my camera settings for every photo posted – take advantage of this information and get a feel for what settings you’ll need at the next show.

As always, I want to know how you do things – leave a comment and share some of your knowledge with everyone.

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com

GRT2 Self Portrait July 2009





FOCUS : New Photography Web Series

20 01 2010

Here’s a quick preview of my new web series that starts next week! If you are a photographer or an artist and you have a specific photo or project you want highlighted please contact me via email. GRT2





Why Watermark or Brand Your Photos

18 01 2010

Casey Moore's Bike Rack : Tempe, AZ
No one likes to get ripped off and no one wants to feel cheated – I don’t care who you are.

Question: Do you host your images on popular photo sharing sites like Flickr or Facebook? If you answered yes and you do not take a moment to brand or watermark your photos you are running the risk of having your images stolen.

The topic of this post started with a question asked by my friend Devon. He asked if I could address the pros and cons of watermarking or branding self published photos. Thanks, great subject for discussion.

CONS

Aesthetics: If you are not strategic with the placement and size of the watermark or branding it may take away from the image. When placing a watermark, copyright line or logo make sure it doesn’t draw the viewer’s eye away from the subject and screw with the composition. The perception of the value of the photo to a prospective client can be lessened if you are not careful with placement.

After giving it much thought this is the only con I see when when it comes to this topic.

PROS

The list of pros far outweigh the cons. For starters, people will know who took the photo and subsequently who owns its rights. If you include  simple things like the copyright year and your website (or wherever your portfolio can be seen) it tells the viewer how old the photo is and where they can see more of your work. As photographers I believe it is our responsibility to make things as easy as possible for clients to get the information they need.

Another reason to brand your photos falls under the lines as the second point – properly branded photos will increase traffic to your websites.

Personally, I prefer a branding line over a watermark that covers up the image. Although a watermark is harder to delete and photoshop out of an image, aesthetically it’s horrid. I use a simple two line branding mark that includes my website and the copyright date. (I know that in some cases this can be cropped out and removed but after giving it some thought I’m ok with taking that risk to preserve the integrity of the photograph.)

HOW TO BRAND A PHOTO

Here is a simple overview of how I brand my photos. I process my photos in Aperture and after I make my adjustments I export the image to a work in progress folder. From here I will open the exported file in photoshop, open my .psd branding file and drag it on top of the photo. After I give placement careful thought and consideration I save the file. I will then import the altered file back into Aperture and stack the native image with the branded image (in Aperture stacking allows me to view thumbnails of the photos I use.) The last step is publishing the photograph to the platform of my choice.

My .psd branding mark is comprised of white text on a transparent background. (Download my branding mark and alter it with your own text by clicking here.)

How do you handle branding your photographs and watermarks? Leave a comment and let’s discuss…

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com

GRT2 Self Portrait July 2009





Three Reasons To Use A Tripod

15 01 2010

Are you tired of being being disappointed in your photographs?Do you want to take your photography to the next level? One simple way to step your game up is to learn when to use a tripod.

Here are three key reasons in photography that I use my tripod: Image Stabilization, Long Exposure Photography and Creative Photography.

IMAGE STABILIZATION

Stabilization : Yellowstone National Park, MT

Although most lenses have a built in image stabilization feature – sometimes it is not enough. When using my telephoto lenses I use my tripod as often as I can. This way I can reduce the shake of the camera caused by the lens being extended at length. A good rule of thumb is anytime your shutter speed is equal to or less than your focal length -get out the tripod. (ex. 300m < 1/300 or 200mm < 1/200.)

LONG EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHY

Lake Yellowstone : Yellowstone, MT

When an exposure over 1/15 is used I highly recommend using the tripod. Long Exposures are needed to capture vibrant colors in low light situations. Two perfect examples of this would be sunsets and fireworks. You may be able to get away with shorter exposure times for sunsets but a stop action photograph of fireworks just doesn’t work. By increasing the exposure length the trails and colors of the fireworks are more vivid and dramatic. It is nearly impossible to keep the camera still for the duration needed to utilize long exposures.

CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY

Fast Motion : South Mountain / Phoenix, AZ

In some situations you may want to extend your creativity and blur motion. This can only be done with the use of a tripod. By combining your tripod with the proper settings all static items will remain still in the photograph while objects moving will be blurred. This technique takes time and a lot of trial and error. It took me over two hours to get the above photo. (If you want to experiment with this type of photography I suggest you check the settings of this photo on my flickr page and be prepared to exercise some patience.)

The tripod is also essential if you need to bracket exposures. Bracketing exposures create images that are +1 fstop from the original setting and -1 fstop from the original setting. This technique is helpful to make sure you captured the image perfectly or if you plan on making the set of  photos into a HDR (High Dynamic Range) image.

These are by no means the only reasons to use a tripod. Unless I am photographing concerts I always have my tripod with me – you never know when it’s going to be put to use. (As demonstrated below!) How do you use your tripod? When does it get used the most? Please share your thoughts and experience below.

Lower Salt River Photo by KBL

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com





Top 5 Favorite Photo Spots

12 01 2010

Ever photograph a place so magnificent you never wanted to leave? You know, the spot that lives not only in your photography but also in your mind forever. I have been fortunate enough to photograph so many wonderful landscapes that I wanted to share my top 5 spots and the photos.

5. New York City : I love NYC! Growing up right outside of the city in NJ – I took NY for granted. I developed a true understanding and appreciation for New York after I moved to Arizona.

South St Seaport

4. Magdalena Rd. / Flagstaff, AZ : If you head northwest on route 180 in Flagstaff towards Snowbowl you will come across a meadow. That is Magdalena Rd. (I am also partial to this spot because Kristina painted a picture of this photo for my studio.)

Sedona

3. Sedona, AZ : There is something about Sedona. The majestic Red Rock in the high desert setting and the blue skies that are a photographer’s dream.

Schnebly Road / Sedona
2. Yellowstone National Park, MT and WY : Doesn’t everyone have Yellowstone on their list? After our trip there this summer – I know that this is one of the greatest places in the world. We drove through the park and went from seeing geysers to wildlife to cowboys riding their horses on the plains. If you’ve never been – do yourself a favor and put it on your list to visit.

Yellowstone

1. Mormon Row / Grand Teton National Park, WY : This is one of those famous spots that everyone has to take a picture of when in the Tetons. I was no different – only mine has Buffalo.

Mormon Row

Do you have any favorite spots you’ve photographed over the years. Take a moment to tell us about them in the comment section and post links to the images. If you would like directions or exact locations of my top 5 spots – drop me a line and I’ll do my best to get you there. Contact GRT2 via Email

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com – Thanks!