Learning a Few Photography Tricks from Friends

photographer-friendsIt’s good to have people around you with the same hobby as you, when you have friends like these you can easily grow in your art. For example since high school my closest friends are almost all photography enthusiast, and because of this we discovered new techniques together, and shared what we individually learned. This in turn allowed us to rapidly grow our skills and knowledge as photographers and artists. As a treat, here are a few things we learned and shared with each other as  a group, use them and explore new techniques, and maybe share anything new you discover with us and your friends.

1.) Light Stencil Trick

Okay so let’s just simplify it as much as we can. Look for a shape or drawing that you would like to stencil in your photos, and glue it to a box, cut the shape or drawing’s outline in a way that light can travel through and make an impression. Choose your desired color for the shape (colored rice paper is what I use), and put a light you can turn on and off in the box.

To use the light stencil box, set to a low shutter speed (look for the perfect speed), and turn on the stencil box at the locations of where you want it to appear in the photo. Don’t forget to turn the light off as you change location though.

(Hopefully I explained it in a way you would understand)

2.) Next Level Jump Shot

Okay I call this a “levitation trick”, but technically it is just a jump shot with some props to make it look like you are flying.

Get an item that you would normally associate with flight or levitation, a balloon maybe, or an umbrella, or if you would like some props like: Jetpacks, hover board, or some well-made wings. You then hold or wear them according to how you would like it to appear (preferably in a way that the prop is influencing the flight or levitation), and jump as you take the picture (it is best to look for a location that would look perfect with your “flight/levitation”).

camera-lens

3.) Cheap Light Effects

All you need is a strong light source and some assorted colored plastic sheets. Cover the light source with the sheets and use it as lighting, change color and angle for desired effects.

You can also modify light stencil box (number one of this list) as a light source to project shapes of light to you model or subject.

4.) The Broken Mirror

If you don’t want to risk having seven years bad luck, try to find a broken whole body mirror at a garage sale of some sort of thrift shop, or if you don’t believe in bad luck just break one yourself.

Take pictures of your subject or model through the mirror to have a cracked image effect.

 

These are a few tricks we used back in the day, nowadays you can use Photoshop to add in most of the effects found here… but there’s no fun in that.

Best Places in Georgia to Photograph

I just got back from my adventure in Atlanta, and it yielded me a lot of beautiful photos to add to my portfolio. It was just a quick trip to accompany my mother to her friend’s house in Atlanta. She was very insistent for me to go with her so I cannot refuse. It will be like a holiday for the two of us because we rarely spend time together since she lives far from my place. Let me narrate what happened to us on my one week vacation in Atlanta.

We arrived to Atlanta a week ago, and we were met by my mother’s friend at the airport. They were high school best friends. My mom’s friend surprised us with good news. She is getting married again to her husband to celebrate their 30th birthday. My mom was so happy and volunteered me to be a backup photographer for them. Thanks, mom!

We drove to their home in Georgia, and I asked where her husband was. She said that he is out of town to finish some work and then will be back that evening. We arrive at her house, and it was very charming. The problem is, there was no electricity when we flicked the switch. She talked to her neighbor to check if they have power, and the friend said that they do.

No one knew how to check the electricity, even me. I was not comfortable dealing with anything electrical in nature. We couldn’t wait for her husband, so my mom’s friend decided to contact an electrician. We searched for the site of the nearest electrician in our location and we were fortunate that the company can send someone soon after our call.

The electrician came in a few minutes and checked the main switch and circuit breaker. In a few moments, the power was restored! We couldn’t thank the electrician enough for the efficient and friendly service.

That night, the husband of my mom’s friend took us out to dinner. When he found out that I am a photographer, he told me that he is a photo hobbyist himself. He said that we could stop by his favorite landscape in Atlanta so we can photograph. My mom and her friend could not agree more because they will be busy doing their girly bonding.

We went to Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island. It is accessible by car through the causeway. The landscape was a sight to behold! It got marshes, beaches, and tidal creeks. You can click anywhere, and you are sure to capture a breath-taking view.  Driftwood on the beach

 

Driftwood on the beach

Unfortunately, we were only able to visit one site, but he told me about others that are worth photographing. I put them here so you can add it to your stop when you happen to be in Atlanta.

George L. Smith Park 

You will get another treat in this place especially when you love kayaking or canoeing, too. This place is best photographed on the boat to access the beautiful views around the pond. It is surrounded with cypress and tupelo trees adding mystery to your photos.

Lover’s Leap

You will be stunned at the beauty of this waterfall and the surrounding mountains. It is located on Lookout Mountain in Georgia.

Providence Canyon State Park

It is located in Southwestern Georgia. You do not need to go to the Grand Canyons to appreciate the unique texture of canyons in your photograph.

There are other attractions to see, and I would love to see more landscape photos in Georgia. I will surely comeback and see it for myself.

The Great Smoky Mountain Trails

It was a very fortunate experience to be invited to join Charlotte-based photographers for a week-long photography tour. We met in Bryson City where the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina are located.

It was a full packed week ahead, and I was so excited to be sleeping in a mountain cabin for the first time. I imagine the rustic ambiance and the smell of timber. I imagine waking up in the middle of nature. I imagined everything on my way to Charlotte.

But that excitement was gone as soon as I learned that we cannot stay in the mountain cabin that we originally booked. There was an emergency extermination going on that place because the owners saw a termite hill nearby. The termite exterminator was only available at that time due to previously scheduled appointments.

We were so disappointed that we are not staying in a cabin. But we cannot let it dampen our spirits. The cabin owners transferred us to a bed and breakfast, and suddenly, it was not that bad at all. The B&B was very homey, and they served the best coffee I had since I arrived in the US.

Now, time to talk about the Great Smoky Mountain. The Great Mountain is located in North Carolina and Tennessee.  This place is a landscape photographer’s playground because of the great wildlife and photogenic landscapes. The park is about 800 square miles with lots of trails such us the Appalachian Trail.

The Great Smokey Mountain gave us a lot of gorgeous photos. We found our perfect subject just walking the trails. It is that beautiful! But the highlight of them are the main attractions.

Our first stop was at the Clingman’s Dome. The dome is the highest part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. You can go to this site through the Clingman’s Dome Road. The Observation Tower is open all-year round, but they close the road from December to March, and whenever the weather require. The best part of this view is the pine forest. We were lucky to see it unobstructed because many said that pollution could cover a significant percentage of the vista.

Our next stop was the Roaring Fork Nature Trail. Our cabin was supposed to be on this trail. This site features a flowing mountain stream surrounded by forest. It was a great feeling to be surrounded by nature. We explored the waterfalls that are accessible on the trails. Our first stop was the Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls is a single-drop waterfall and considered as the highest falls in the park. It looks its best after a long rain shower. We went here around lunchtime, so it was a bit tricky to photograph because of the sun being high up in the sky, so we waited until the late afternoon to take some shots.

We also went to the Grotto Falls. What we liked about this falls is that were able to walk behind it. It sent us back to the memories of childhood fun water rides, but so much better. We took a lot of photos here before we headed back to Rainbow Falls.

There are a lot of other things to see just exploring the trails. I think we spent a lot of time just photographing the views along the trails than touring to the major spots. I believe it’s time to let the undiscovered beauty of the trails shine this time.

My Quick Photography Stint in Denver

While I have more than enough subjects to cover here in New Zealand, I have always welcomed the prospect of travelling half-way around the world to conquer new sights and sounds. Nature is unique. Every country has a charm that you can find nowhere else. So, imagine my excitement when my college friend, Jill, invited me to visit her place in Denver!

The sight was just too much to take in! It was gorgeous! Too bad, my camera was still packed. I just pulled out my phone to capture my first photograph of Denver. Jill was already waiting for me so I have to delay my photo expedition. We had a lot of catching up to do. It was surreal that I was finally reunited with her after all these years!

The ride to her house is so scenic. I had to unpack my camera to take more photos. It felt like I’m still in New Zealand. It was a long scenic drive going to her place.

Just when I thought I had enough of the gorgeous landscape, I was awestruck at the view surrounding Jill’s house! It’s like living in paradise! With her permission, I walked around their place and started clicking. Until I saw termites trails on his backyard wall. I know how destructive this pest is so I called my friend’s attention.

She was shocked at the sight of it. She immediately contacted an affordable exterminator in Denver to take a look and exterminate the lurking pest. I was pretty impressed with the exterminator’s service because it was quick and efficient. It means we can still push through with our plans.

I was thrilled to see the places Jill described to me. She took me there and I was better than I imagined. I highly recommend these places when you get the chance to visit Denver:

  • Boulder Flatirons – These site is accessible compared to other sites I visited. Visit Chautauqua Park and Flatirons Vista Open space for great wide shots.
  • Maroon Bells – This is the most photographed mountain scene in America. You can’t go wrong with this one because the view is simply picture-perfect.
  • Red Rocks Park and Garden of the Gods – This site features amazing red sandstone outcroppings. The exciting part is the possibility of meeting wildlife living in the area.
  • Blue Lake – It is a series of three turquoise-blue lakes located at the San Juan Mountains. The view is just awesome.

I could only squeeze in a few sites in my one week visit to Denver but it was enough to fill my portfolio with astonishing photos.

Denver is a beautiful place. You never have to go far to find a scenery to photograph. In fact, you can just pull-over from the road and capture a magnificent scene. I can only imagine how the landscape changes in each seasons. I would definitely come back next year, not just for the photos, but also for Jill’s wedding.

Tips for Great Nature and Landscape Photos

Photography is a fun and creative activity, hobby, and profession. It captures the beauty of all the things that detail the carefully taken photos, however old, grey, or small these details are. However, photography as a serious business, profession, and discipline requires years of hard work, money, and practice. The magnificent results would be the best payment a humble photographer could accept.

anemone

One of the most difficult photography subcategories is nature and landscape photography. Although landscape is a particular type of taking photos of aesthetically pleasing locations, it is considered to be under nature photography. To upgrade the quality of nature and landscape photos, here are several tips for making that happen:

 

  • Identify the subject or location. A great photo would always have a focus on a specific area or subject. Knowing and understanding what and where to focus narrows down the decision-making in taking the photos.
  • Emphasize on the subject or location. This can be achieved through the manipulation of the lens by finding the right play of lights. Opening and closing the lens until you arrive on the perfect play of light can enhance the emphasis on the subject or area.
  • Find a good vantage point. Finding the right perspective can affect the quality of the photo and the overall image of the subject or location. This can only be achieved by the photographer’s own decisions on the right vantage point.
  • Use the elements to your advantage. The photographer can manipulate various elements like grass, trees, insects, wind, and others to frame the subject area as perfectly as possible. These things should not be considered as unnecessary, because they can actually enhance the overall photo. If a photographer has problems with maintaining a subject or an area, it is possible to use pest control that has limited effects on the plants and trees’ growth. There are various environment-friendly photography clubs who practice pest control measures to ensure minimal problems during the shoot.

A great photographer knows how to use the little things efficiently and effectively without any issues regarding the harm to nature. The discipline entails love and care for the environment, and each photography session must carry the need for eco-friendliness.

 

 

Why go to New Zealand for Landscape Photography

There are a lot of wonderful places in the world to capture great moments and beauty, one of them is New Zealand. Think of this, of all the awesome places in the world, the people in Hollywood decided to make the countryside of New Zealand as the backdrop for both the “Lord of The Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies. The beauty of this country is just clearly out of this world, or at least on par with fantasy worlds. There are plenty of places that are perfect for landscape photography in New Zealand, you just have to look for them, but to help you out her are a few places you should really go to at New Zealand.

1.) Milfred Sound

This is the number one place to go hiking. There is so much natural beauty to see such as glaciers and a beautiful rain forest, and best of all nothing there will or even can kill you, New Zealand is known for not having any harmful creatures, so you don’t have to worry going to odd places like climbing trees or crawling to a ledge to get the best angle for a shot. Be careful though, even though creatures can’t kill you, falling off from a cliff or tree could hurt you pretty badly.

2.) Hawke’s Bay

Would you like some good wine while doing your landscape photography? Well Hawke’s bay is the right place for you, with the beautiful hilly coast, with vineyards and naturally beautiful hills you can’t go wrong with picking this place. Though I might have just been drunk the whole time I was there and thought everything was beautiful, after Google-ing it I found that my memory did not fail me and it is certainly a good place to visit and a wonderful subject for photography.

sunrise-on-the-rock-new-zealand

3.) Bay of Islands

Personally I like take photos of beautiful islands, with the 140 islands, undeveloped beaches, Maori Artifacts, and big-game fishing, you can capture magnificent moments and beautiful sceneries, while at the same time have fresh sea food for dinner.

4.) Te Anau

The best place to stay at when you just want to have a good feel of the New Zealand, the town is near a lake called Lake Te Anau which is also the largest lake in the south Island. With a beautiful mountainous background the lake is the perfect subject for a painting and photography.

5.) Te Moeka o Tuawe

Also known as Fox Glacier can be found at Tai Poutini National Park. The glacier stretches 13Km and is just a jaw dropping spectacular view. Capture this beauty on its own or as a background for a memorable photo.

There are many places in New Zealand to visit and capture wonderful beauty and moments with friends and family. If you’re going around the world anyway why not start somewhere as far as New Zealand, where the beauty and tranquility of the country is so good, hobbits built their home there, speaking of which “The Shire” is also an excellent place to visit.

 

Landscape Photography and a Slim Body

photographyWhen it comes to landscape photography, you will need to do a lot of hiking and positioning yourself at the right place to get the right angle. Unfortunately when you’re a bit overweight, or in my case obese, this becomes a hurdle in your new hobby or career. Most wonderful sceneries are at remote areas where there are little to no road access, so hiking is a must, and when it comes to landscape photography, the natural lighting is extremely important, if you miss the window when the light is perfect, you will have to either camp out or come back the next day, so there is a lot of running and jogging involved.

 

The Fast Way 

jelly-bellyI have never been a person who did not take the easiest solution to solve my problems, and even though I knew that after a little time of continuously working like I did, along with additional workouts, I would be able to lose that jelly-belly. I decided to take an easier route to my problem, during a vacation in the U.S., I visited a friend in Utah, who knew a really good doctor to help me with my problem. The doctor explained to me the procedure and  that abdominoplasty procedure removes excess fat and skin from the abdomen, which was exactly what I needed. Though he also told me to take it easy after the following few months to avoid complication, he told me that I should be able to work.

 

My Experience after the Procedure 

hiking-in-the-middle-of-nowhereIt was weird at first, I felt as if I finally took off a heavy backpack, and my life was a bit easier too. Without the extra weight I was able to hike to my destinations with less effort and be able climb into positions that would have been difficult or even impossible back when I had the belly. I was even able to properly maintain the new body because of the active lifestyle a landscape photographer has. Work became even more fun than before, with a lighter body I was able to do more and experience more.

 

Thoughts about everything 

beautiful-landscapeHad I have been more patient I believe that after a year or two of just doing my work I would have eventually reached a point where I would have lost the weight I had lost through the procedure, though it would have affected the quality of my work, given that the whole reason I am now able to do my work properly is because I lost those extra pounds. I can pretty much recommend the procedure if you don’t have the luxury of time, like I did. But if you have enough patience and you have the time to lose weight naturally I recommend you doing that. Heads up though, if you have been fat for a good portion of your life, there is a good chance that your skin will sag and you will still need a procedure to get rid of the excess skin. If you do though, I recommend having it done in Utah if you can, they have awesome doctors.

 

 

My First DSLR Camera and Photography Contest

I’ve always been fond of cameras since childhood, my first camera was a cheap one that you had to wind up, I had a lot of fun with it but film was hard to get since I only had my allowance to buy it with. Not to mention I could only ever afford the ones with the least amount of shots, and developing? Forget about it. Later on, when digital cameras became popular, my father bought one for the family, since I was only one interested in photography I was the one who was in charge of it. I loved how you could instantly see the results on tiny screen when you take a picture, and back then the resolution was something outstanding, but looking back at the photos that I took it was a pretty bad camera. Finally I was in my late teens when I was finally able to afford a DSLR for myself. I remember it was the Nikon D40x, which at that time, was an incredible camera for those who were just getting into seriously pursuing photography.

Nikon D40x
Nikon D40x

I loved that camera, I took it with me everywhere I go, to the point that my friends and family asked why bring it with you all the time, to which I answer “If there is a moment to capture and I did not have my camera, what’s the use of owning one”. I studied everything there was about the camera, searched for photography books in the bookstore sale bin, and looked for any tips online, and what videos was available that time I watched it, which back then wasn’t much of it or at least good ones that is.

I got to use the camera and what I learned when we visited New Zealand that year, I had wanted to go and take landscape photos, but unfortunately I was the family’s designated photographer for the whole trip, so all I got was a lot of vacation photos, most of which were at cafes and inside the cities and towns we visited, which were quite beautiful so I didn’t mind. Luckily I got a lot of good shots of nature during our trip to Milford Sound, the glaciers, waterfalls and scenery were wonderful. Back then I thought the photos I took were expertly done, looking at it now I see how much of an amateur I was, unfocused and overexposed.

When we got back home I caught wind of a photo contest in our town, I registered believing how good of a photographer I was, and confident of my top of the line camera. But during the week of the contest, I came across fellow photographers who were also participating in the contest, I saw their equipment and understood that they were at a whole other level. They weren’t mean or anything though, quite the contrary, as they gave me tips and even helped me during the contest. Obviously I didn’t win, I didn’t place in the top ten, but I had a lot of fun.

Just like any firsts, your first camera and contest is one you will never forget. Today I am a bit more skilled and have a few good cameras at my disposal, but had I not invested in my first camera and courageously registered for that first camera contest I wouldn’t be where I am now.