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

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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





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





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!





Be Back Tomorrow

7 01 2010

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I planned on starting my Concert Photography Series tonight but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Thx





Photo365 Projects

5 01 2010

Here are links to some Photo365 projects from the photographers I spoke to about this post. Check out their work and let them know what you think.

Erin Taylor-Bell’s Project
Devon Adams’ Project
Stacy Ericson’s Project
Allan Saw’s Project

Here are links to where you can find other Photo365 projects – or create your own.

365 Project
Flickr’s 365 Days Photo Group

I want to know about your photo / art projects for 2010 – leave a comment and let us know. It’s all about collaboration! This blog places a high value on collaboration over competition!

My complete photography portfolio can be viewed at: www.grtaylor2photo.com





Five Photographers That Rock

2 01 2010

Everyone who has ever been successful has mentors. If mentor is too formal a word for art than people they admire and look to their work for inspiration. The access to online portfolios, flickr and tweets about photo shoots has expanded my view. But ultimately there are a handful of photographers over the years whose work has stuck with me – so here is my list of FIVE Photographers that I respect and admire their work. (In no particular order.)

Stevie D of the Raging Lamos by Ben Cornish

BEN CORNISH: Who is Ben Cornish? Ben is a filmmaker that lives in Denver but growing up he was one of my best friends. Ben was the person who always had a 35mm camera or a video camera with him. I know somewhere there are umpteen boxes of VHS tapes and photographs from our high school days and thereafter. I’ve always liked the diverse subjects Ben shot. One day it would be a skate session and then maybe a concert we were going to later and probably along the way he would pull the car over to take a picture of a cool tree by the side of the road. Ben made it ok for me to take photos and to have a camera with me often.

GLEN E. FRIEDMAN: If you don’t know who Glen E. Friedman is – look it up. Glen documented two groundbreaking subjects in history (and my life) – early days of skateboarding and the east coast music movement (both punk rock and hip-hop.) Glen’s unique composition and powerful portraits are the envy of many photographer. Often before going to shoot a concert or a portrait I will look at one of his amazing books to get ideas on position, lighting and composition. I know I am not alone when I say – Glen E. Friedman has influenced me more than any other photographer. (Period.)

TODD OWYOUNG: Todd is a Concert Photographer from Los Angeles, CA. The thing that always strikes me about Todd’s work is the amazing colors. Concert photography is usually a fight with light. He is able to make the lighting work for him and produce excellent work. What I admire most about Todd is his transparency. Usually his posts include what lenses were used and his camera settings. As I refer to Glen’s books I also refer to Todd’s website to gain insight on technical aspects of concert photography. He has helped my progression as an artist.

CHADWICK FOWLER: I have known of Chadwick for a while now – but I first met him spring of 2009. Chadwick is a professional photographer from Phoenix, AZ that specializes only in great shots. His business is segmented into Commercial Photography, Concert / Music Photography and Portrait Photography. He has a passion for getting the best photo at the perfect moment. More than that he has a passion for his craft (photography) – I know because I have seen him in action. Chadwick sets the bar high for us photographers in Phoenix and we are all better for it. Check out his work. www.chadwickfowler.com

CRAIG BLANK: I’ve known Craig since the early 80’s. Craig was one of our best friend’s (older) brother. I don’t know what to say about Craig’s photographs – whether it’s about his architecture work, product work or portraits – His photos always capture that thing. (It’s difficult to put into words.) Again, these are the shots I am continually seeking. Craig is probably one of the most technical photographers I know (graduated from School of Visual Arts in NYC.) When I see Craig’s work it always makes me pick up my camera and photograph something.

There’s my list. These are the artists that I work to be named with at someday. Who are your favorite photographers – I want to know so I can expand my circle influence. (Happy 2010 to everyone.)

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