October 18, 2017

Halloween Photo opportunities

Hello to all my blogger friends. I hope you're enjoying the change of season and getting out with your camera to capture all that Fall has to offer. I feel very fortunate because I live in New England and in my area we definitely have four seasons, each with its own special flavors and colors which makes for some fantastic photo opportunities. Around here, the humid days of summer have given away to crisp cool days with clear air and bright blue skies. These are the perfect combinations for taking beautiful photographs. Not only that, but the sun is lower in the sky providing wonderful long shadows in early morning and late afternoon. So conditions are perfect for photographers - amateur or professional - to get out there and take some great pictures. 
One of the things I really enjoy about the Fall are the Halloween displays and decorations. To me this means everything from all the cute kids in costumes to spooky haunted houses and the eerie glowing jack-o’-lanterns. 

I can remember when I was a kid there were a lot more homes decorated for Halloween than there are these days and personally, I really miss them. Luckily for me, there is one home not too far from me, that is decorated to the hilt every year. This person really gets into Halloween and goes all out decorating his yard and I have come to make it a habit to swing by every year because his home is a must see event. 

When I first found this place, I stumbled upon it totally by accident.  It all began one afternoon in late September a few years back that I had some free time and was out riding my motorcycle. In my travels I happened to be just riding around checking out the foliage, and I saw the homeowner out in his yard setting it up. I saw how much work the guy put into his display and I decided to stop to check it out and speak with the man.


You could tell by his enthusiasm that this was his favorite holiday and that he was really getting into it. He told me that it takes him over a week just to set up his display and that he uses one of his vacation weeks every year just to get it ready. He also told me that he has his display lit up for the entire month of October and he welcomes all visitors to come by and check it out.

This was my cue and I told him I was a local photographer and gave him one of my business cards. I told him that I really loved Halloween displays myself also. I asked him if he would mind if I took a few shots with my point and shoot while I was there and he told me to feel free. All the time I was taking photos, he was giving me the history of his display. We still had a few more hours of daylight so I could only image what it would look like all lit up. 
I told him that I would really love to come back early some evening with another camera and some equipment and take some serious photos. He told me to feel free and come back anytime. Like always, I offered to send him some images and told him that he could go online check them out. 

A few days later I had a chance to go check out his display. The weather was perfect and his yard had everything from witches flying across the yard and zombies and monsters everywhere. It looked so cool all lit up, he really spared nothing. He even had a make-shift movie theater where kids could come by on weekends to see classic horror films like the Wolfman and Dracula. Nice huh?

Well, to make a short story even longer, I’ve been back quite a few times over the years and I still enjoy it. Night-time photography is a tough subject for many people but with a little practice and some careful planning, you can get some really great shots of Halloween displays yourself. For myself, shooting Halloween displays like his, I approach these just like I would any other low light photography situation. For these photos here, I went with just one lens, a Canon 24-105mm ƒ4.0 set wide open, ISO set somewhere between 800 - 1600, with the flash set to rear curtain sync. In situations like this you want to be as steady as possible so I brought along my trusty monopod to steady my camera. I had also brought two external speedlights (with wireless triggers) and a light stand. I had one flash in the hotshoe and the other on the stand, running both with a wireless commander. For the shots here I had to try to avoid getting spectators in my shots. Sometimes that just takes a little patience. When lit correctly, my goal is to avoid shadows and specular highlights whenever I can, but that’s what you always want anyway right? 

Over the years I’ve told a lot of friends and fellow photographer friends about this display and personally I hope he puts it up for many years.  I hope you enjoyed this post and find some interesting things to photograph this Fall in your area also. 
Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

September 30, 2017

Quick Color Boost technique

Here’s a tip that is great for boosting colors quickly. I use this technique quite often to help give my landscape shots a Fall looking effect. But like most of my tips, you can use this on all sorts of photos. On the image here, I wanted to give my photo a quick color boost for Fall looking effect. You’ll notice this most in the grass and trees on the LAB Color shot. I’ve actually created an Action that gives me three levels of color boost to choose from. Maybe I’ll show you how to create a set for yourself in a future tutorial?  But for now, this tip is quick and simple. I think you’ll find that it can come in handy for sure. 

To do this, start off by creating a duplicate layer of your image. Name that layer LAB layer. We’ll work on our copy for now because we’ll need two copies for this in the end steps.  First you go under the Image menu, under Mode, choose LAB Color. Now go under the Image menu again and choose Apply Image. When that dialog opens, in the channel box, select b from the drop down menu and in the Blending box select Overlay. That will give your photo a nice Fall looking effect. But this might be a little too much for some images so this is where our LAB copy comes in handy. If the effect is a little too heavy, lower your Opacity on the LAB layer until it looks right to you. When you get it where you want it, go back up to the Image drop down menu and change your Mode back to RGB Color.

In my image I found that about 70 - 75% opacity looked pretty good to me but every photo is different. Play around on some of your own photos and see what you think. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and remember, keep shooting and have some fun!

August 16, 2017

Scott Kelby’s 10th Anniversary Worldwide Photowalk is coming!

About a week ago it was officially announced, the 10th Anniversary Worldwide Photowalk is scheduled for Saturday October 7th.  Photowalks are scheduled every year on the first Saturday of October and this year is sort of special because it marks the 10th Anniversary of the Worldwide Photowalk.  The Photowalk proudly supports the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. Although donations are not mandatory, every dollar donated helps feed, educate and provides housing for these kids.

If you’ve never been on one of these Photowalks, you might want to check one out. They are totally free and are a great way to meet fellow photographers. Plus you could enter the annual Photowalk Contest and get a chance to win some awesome prizes from companies like Canon and B & H Photo. I’ve attended six of these personally and look forward to this year’s event. 

I love Photowalks and think they are a lot of fun. You start by joining a group of your choice; there are thousands to choose from all around the globe. On the day of the photowalk you begin by meeting up with your group at a specific meeting place. Groups can be up to up to 50 other photographers.  Then your group leader leads your group on a pre-determined route through an area that is photographically interesting.  I try to go to new areas when I go on these and I’ve attended photowalks in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. These are a great way to see new things that I don’t usually get to photograph and meet other photographers. The Photowalks usually last around two hours or so and when you’re through your walk, all the attendee’s meet up at a local restaurant or pub (chosen in advance by the walk leader) where you can have a meal or some drinks and share photos and stories from the walk. It’s a great way to make some new friends and get out shooting with other photographers.
If this sounds like something you might enjoy, sign up quickly and mark your calendar. Remember, it’s not mandatory to make a donation but every dollar helps take care of some children who could use your support. Participating on a Photowalk also gives you chance to enter the contest and take a shot at winning some great prizes. Maybe you’ll win one of these fantastic prizes? Every year Scott picks one Grand Prize winner and 10 finalists. This year’s Grand Prize winner wins a Canon EOSM5 Mirrorless Camera with an EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS lens, and a Canon Pixma Pro color printer and a $250 B&H Gift Certificate, plus some other really cool prizes. They also have beginner’s contest and another contest for best video. The video part of the contest includes a Canon EOS 80D, complete with Lens, Microphone Power Zoom and a 32GB card.  A complete video package! Nice huh?

Check out all the great prizes to see what you could win. Maybe they don’t have a photowalk in your area?  You could sign up to be a Photowalk Leader. All leaders will receive a copy of Scotts book, The Photoshop CC book for Digital Photographers.  Click on any of the Photowalk links for more info and a list of all the great prizes.

Who knows, maybe I’ll bump into you on this year’s photowalk?
© D. Gould Photography