October 15, 2014

Coming soon......Acadia - Bar Harbor trip

As I mentioned in my last post, I was getting ready for a little get-away trip up to Bar Harbor  Maine. I met up with some of my camera club friends for a little photo vacation over the Columbus Day weekend and even got a chance to go on a another one of Scott Kelbys Worldwide Photowalks while I was there. I'm hoping to have a little post up soon on that trip very soon!

September 28, 2014

7th Annual Worldwide Photowalk

Well the clock is ticking down now because it’s almost time for the 7th Annual Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk, which is a great photo event held all around the world. This years event is coming up on Saturday October 11th 2014. 

Although it’s completely free to participate on a walk, this year we’re “Walking with a Purpose” by encouraging all participants to make a small donation (as little as $1) to the Springs of Hope orphanage in Kenya.  Not only are the Photowalks free, but by signing up for one you can enter a contest to win some really fantastic prizes! Last year there were over 1300 walks with over 28,000 walkers worldwide!

What’s a Photowalk you say?  A Photowalk is a worldwide photo event started in 2008 by Scott Kelby. If you’re into photography you’ll probably recognize that name. Scott is an author, teacher and photographer out of Tampa Bay Florida. He is also a co-founder of NAPP and president of the Kelby Media Group, a software training, education and publishing firm.

These Photowalks have turned out to be the largest social photography events of their kind anywhere on the planet.  Photowalks are a great way for photographers from all walks of life and skill levels to gather together on the same day to socialize, learn new tips from each other, and explore their corner of the world through photography. How it works is that local people organize a small gathering, usually in a major city or scenic place. Then the photo enthusiasts (groups of up to 50 people) from that area meet at the designated location and walk through the city socializing, having fun, and taking pictures. Usually a Photowalk is between 2-3 hours total and then afterward the walkers will gather at a local bar, pub, or restaurant to have a bite and share some photos and some laughs.

I’ve been able to go on four of these myself, and each time I’ve had a blast. One year I was all signed up but the event ended up getting rained out (in my area) and another year I couldn't get the day off from work. But each year I’ve met some great people, learned a few things and made a few new friends along the way.

Personally, when I sign up for a Photowalk, I try to go to some new location that I wouldn’t normally shoot. The first year I went into the North End of Boston and I met some really great people. My second Photowalk was in Providence RI and it turned out kind of weird. I met a couple sisters who were signed up for the walk and we accidentally drifted off from the rest of the group a little, but as luck would have it we found an outside fair in a park with a group of Civil War actors and Native Indians. Plenty of stuff to photograph for sure. I've also gone on one in Marblehead MA led by Rick Ashley and another in Nashua NH. This year I’m signed up for one in Mount Desert, Maine (just outside of Bar Harbor) about 6 hrs from my home. Its being led my a local photograher named Howie Motenko. Howie runs a company specializing in workshops called Acadia Photo Safari.  I am definitely looking forward to this one because I’ve never been to Bar Harbor before. I’m spending 5 days in the area and two or three days will be with a small group of my photography club members. I'm hoping it will be a very photogenic time with the change of seasons and all the interesting sites in the area.

This year’s event is coming up fast, but it’s not too late to sign up for 7th Annual Scott Kelby Photowalk.  I’m sure you can find a Photowalk that still have openings. Photowalks are a great way to socialize, get out and take some photos and get together with other photographers. Not to mention take a chance at winning some great prizes too!  Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

September 1, 2014

The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes

The Step-by-step secrets to make your photos look like the pros

A little over five years ago I wrote a couple posts on some photography books that I liked and thought were worth mentioning. (May 2009 / August 2009
What started out as a good photography book for people just getting into digital photography,  (The Digital Photography Book) has evolved into a 5 part series, the newest book being called "The Digital Photography Book Part 5 - The step by step secrets to make your photos look like the pros!"  

These books have proved to be very popular and are great for anyone either totally new to digital photography or even for people who might be looking for some fresh ideas or tips on how to improve their photo skills. Whichever book you choose, there is bound to be something here for just about everyone with a digital camera.   

Just for the record, the first book I mentioned ended up being the best selling book on Digital Photography ever published. It was originally released in 2006 and was called simply “The Digital Photography Book”. It was written by Scott Kelby who was already well known for his books on Digital Photography and Photoshop and people loved that book right from day one.

Because of its huge success, it was quickly followed up a year later (2007) by another book aptly called “The Digital Photography Book - Volume 2”.   

At the time of my first post I was waiting on Volume 3 but just like the previous two books, The Digital Photography Book - Volume 3 was also well received (2009) and everyone thought that might be the end to the series. But fortunately that wasn't the end of the series, it was followed up by The Digital Photography Book - Volume 4 (2012) which was also very successful. 

All of these books have become very popular with photographers of all types. Books 1 & 2 were so successful they were actually updated and re-released with updated content and new photos. 

In all of these books (Volumes 1 thru 4) the most popular chapter was the final chapter called: Photo Recipes to Help You Get “The Shot”.  Scott would show an image and then briefly describe how to get that type of shot. I still refer back to these books for new ideas, especially those final chapters.

Well Scott has just released another book in this series called “Digital Photography Book Part 5 - Photo Recipes” (photo at the beginning of this post) This book is totally different; it is an entire book of nothing but those easy to follow photo recipes. But he took it up a notch by adding behind-the-scenes details along with photos for each Photo Recipe. Now you can see exactly how it was done so you can get the same look every time yourself.

I’ve always enjoyed reading Scott’s books and would highly recommend all five in the series. The nicest part is that these books won’t break the bank and will only run you about $15 bucks each or in sets for even greater savings. 

His books have always had an easy to read style and have been translated into over a dozen languages and have made Scott the #1 author of books on photography worldwide since 2010. 

Maybe you’re new to digital photography yourself or looking for some new ideas? If you’d like to purchase a copy of any of these books, click on the Amazon links on this site to direct you there.

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

August 1, 2014

Buttonwood Farms Annual Sunflower festival

It seems like the older I get, the more I work for some reason?  A six day work week has become the “norm” for me, at least for the last couple years anyhow. These days I only get one day off every week and for the time being, that’s Sunday. Because of this, I have to try even more to make the most out of my free time and I like to try to get out shooting when I can. Like most photo shoots, this usually takes a little pre-planning. While I was online recently searching for some ideas I found out that this particular weekend coming up was the last two days of the annual Buttonwood Farms Sunflower Harvest. This annual 10 day event was held being this year from July 17 - 27th. 

You might ask, what is the Sunflower harvest?   Well, ever since 2004, Buttonwood Farms (located in Griswold CT ) has been the home to the Sunflowers for Wishes fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut. For those who don’t know, the Make-A-Wish foundation helps make wishes possible for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

As the story goes, at the suggestion of a friend the owners planted one acre of sunflowers in 2003 and almost immediately people started coming from miles away to check them out and photograph them. But at the end of the season, the plants were just chopped down and fed to their cows. After some thought, the owners decided that they could find a better use for the flowers and decided to start the Sunflowers for the Wishes fundraiser. 

For a $5.00 donation you’ll receive a bouquet of sunflowers and 100% of the proceeds go to Make-A-Wish.  The idea caught on immediately. Well it was clear that this was a good thing and the following year they planted 10 acres of sunflowers to see what would happen and the rest is history. Since 2004 they’ve been able to donate over $800,000. 2014 was their best year yet raising $113,232.....Nice huh? 

Well as luck would have it, I was watching the weather reports and it said it’d be overcast with heavy showers off and on all day. Overcast skies can be a good thing for photographers though, so I figured I’d take a chance and take a drive down.

Buttonwood Farms is located located on the Rhode Island / Conn. Border, which is about 55 miles from my home.  It takes me about 1½ hrs to get there, with about 20 miles of the trip driving through rural country back roads. But as it turns out, I was glad I went because I did get a few keepers, even though I eventually get caught it a downpour and got soaked.  

That day I only took one camera and a single lens, a Canon 5D MkII and my trusty Tamron 28-300mm Di VC lens. I did a post on the Tamron last fall and I have come too really like it. In fact, it's on my camera 75% of the time. It’s a ƒ3.5 - 6.3 lens and listed as a Macro / Ultra Zoom and I’m definitely impressed for the price. Its lightweight, quiet and it’s a good all-around lens when you don’t want to lug a bunch of equipment around with you. I wanted to try to get a few shots of all the bees on the plants and actually got a few I was happy with. The final image on this post was taken last year and converted to HDR, but all three shots of the bees were all taken with the Tamron and just cropped and sharpened a little. What do you think?

Buttonwood Farms is also a working dairy farm. They also offer hayrides daily through the cow pastures and through 4 acres of sunflowers with all the proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

In addtion to the hayrides they also have a little tractor pull for the kiddies to chug around the farm.  Since 1997, Buttonwood Farms has been known for its fantastic home-made ice cream. People had been coming from all around just for their ice cream. Because of the rain, I didn’t stand in line and wait for an ice cream, but that’ll give me a good reason to go back next year huh?  

I hope you enjoyed this little story and if you ever get a chance to check out the Sunflower Festival I'm sure you will enjoy it. 
Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

July 15, 2014

New England Camera Club Conference - 2014

Well I just got back from the 69th  New England Camera Club Conference (NECCC) held on the U Mass campus in Amherst, Mass.  Like always, it was a much needed break from my daily grind and time for me to spark up my creative juices again. 

Each year the NECCC holds a three day event filled with classes, seminars and photo opts, designed for anyone who’s interested in photography.

The conference actually started out as a photo and prints competition awards ceremony for New England camera club competitions in 1949 and has morphed into a three day event, which is one of the largest photo conferences of it's kind in the entire country. They NECCC also offers a few pre-conference seminars held the day before the main event. Obviously the weekend can be costly and is sponsored in part by companies like Canon, Nikon, Sigma and Tamron and Hunts Photo & Video, just to name a few. These vendors have setup a special ‘vendors section’ in the main concourse that is open throughout the weekend to help you find just about any equipment you might be looking for. There are even special areas where you can borrow lenses or gear or you can test printers for free! Nice huh? 

For me, the conference is a great time to hook-up with other photographers and my camera club friends. It helps me keep up to date with what’s going on in the photo world and get some fresh ideas from some of the best photographers and biggest names in the industry. Who better to learn from right? The NECCC’s planning board has the weekends activities split into different categories and skill levels and they send out speakers notes and schedules when you register to help you plan out your weekend schedule accordingly beforehand.

On the first day of the conference (Friday) they offer two time slots in the afternoon, a dinner break, and then two or three special one-time only speaker presentations that evening. 

The second day is very full, with four time slots during the day with a break for meals, along with photo opts like model shoots and studio setups in different location on campus throughout the day. Then on Saturday night, they hold the annual NECCC’s awards ceremony along with the special keynote presentation, usually held in the college’s huge Fine Arts auditorium. 

This year the NECCC was lucky enough to get Sam Abel (sponsored by Canon) as their special keynote speaker. Sam has had a fantastic career spanning forty years and holds the honor of being one of only thirty-five people world-wide to be chosen to be one of the Canon Explorers of Light. In addition to being an Explorer of Light, Sam was also a contract and staff photography for National Geographic for thirty years. His presentation was captivating and he definitely got two thumbs up from everyone that attended. Then on Sunday morning, the third and final day, they offer two more time slots in the morning. 

If there are any downsides to the conference it is the fact that they offer way too many choices and you really have to schedule your time accordingly.  For me, I start out weeks beforehand planning out my weekend. During the conference, at meal time or between classes, I’ll hook up with my friends and find out what they’ve seen and quite often I’ll fine-tune my schedule to fit in a particular class that they thought was worth catching or some that I’d be better off skipping. Of course you never get a chance to see everything, but they have tons of choices designed for all skill levels. If you’re into photography, you’ll definitely have a great time.

Over the course of the weekend this year I actually had a chance to attend eight seminars, two presentations (Friday and Saturday night) and fit in several shooting opts. The weekend flies by and is a lot of information crammed in over a short period, but I’m already looking forward to the 70th Annual NECCC next year!

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography