Over the weekend I got to shoot the 8th Annual Halloween Party in my Baldwin Park community. For those who don’t know, I am a regular contributor to Baldwin Park Living Magazine so I often shoot events for the publication.
I’m really happy with the way the shots turned out. I know I’ve done a good job when I have to do minimal processing on the photos; some lens correction and sharpening, maybe some white balance adjustment and done! But what I’m most happy about is what I learned. I’m the kind of person who kicks myself for making a mistake or not having thought of a better solution at the time. Same goes for this shoot, but at least I can look at it and learn.
Here’s the set-up: the event ran from 6pm to 8pm, so I knew I’d be losing light quickly. So I borrowed my brother’s 50mm f/1.4 lens and put it on the full frame Canon 5D. I had my 70-200 f/2.8 on my Canon 40D. You might remember from my last post, that having this lens on a cropped sensor gives me added “reach”. So for a good 30-to-45 minutes, I had enough available light to shoot with my zoom lens; great for isolating kids’ faces. When I wanted a wide-angle or started to lose light I switched to the 50mm.
I love to shoot in manual mode because it gives me total control. But I realized after shooting the 2nd Annual Dog Wash that by the time I adjusted my settings I would lose the shot. So perhaps manual mode is best for situations where you can take your time. But for fast-moving events, like this one, I chose to shoot in Aperture priority and set my aperture to 2.8 almost all the time (to make sure I got as much light as possible and get a nice depth of field). I know I shouldn’t hand-hold anything slower than 1/60th of a second, so when I saw my shutter fall below that, I just boosted my ISO.
Here’s where the lesson comes in. At one point I wanted to get a shot; so I was changing the ISO on my camera and by the time I looked up, the shot was gone. What I should’ve done was just to set the ISO to “auto”. In retrospect, I could’ve even shot in shutter priority to make sure I never fell below 1/6oth. Lesson learned; and it’s a simple one too.
I found that the 50mm on a full frame body produced vignetting as seen in the picture above. I removed it using Photoshop’s lens correction, but then decided I kind of liked it; which is weird ’cause I hate it when people add vignetting to their images. But in this case, it’s natural caused my the wide-angle lens on a full frame body.
Overall, I was happy with the majority of the shots. You can see the rest of the pictures in my Baldwin Park gallery. Thanks for stopping by!
So I was driving home from the gym the other day and I saw a rainbow in the sky (albeit a faint one). I remember reading in a Scott Kelby book or blog that to really get a good rainbow shot it has to be in the context of something visual…think, a rainbow over the Eiffel Tower or some stunning landscape. Don’t just shoot the rainbow. Shoot it in relation to something interesting. So I followed it as I drove into my community looking for something to include with my rainbow.
It led me to a house I’d been wanting to photograph for some time. It’s called the “Tradewinds” house in Baldwin Park, Florida and it’s been on the market for as long as I’ve lived here. It started at close to 5-million. Now it’s a steal at around $3.9 million!
Just goes to show there really is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Just a quick update on my “Tale of Two Meteorologist in Baldwin Park” post.
The issue came out last week and I wanted to let you have a look at the finished product.
As it turns out, the second cover idea never came to fruition so there was only one cover for this issue.
As you can see the image I talked about made it on the inside feature and not the cover; which is good because now you can see the lightning in the corner.
I met Brenda and Kendal at a party last month. I was photographing the event and when she found out that I am a professional photographer she mentioned wanting to have some maternity images done.
She contacted me shortly afterwards about photographing her baby shower and then came up with the idea of having a printed book of maternity pictures to pass around at the shower. So we met in Baldwin Park for the shoot with her and Kendal.
I love to shoot wide! Yeah I know, most photographers love those long telephoto lenses; but I love environmental portraits, showing the subject in the background and how they relate to each other. The shot above was taken with a full frame camera at 17mm using a single Alien Bee with a medium softbox camera left.
For the next shot I decided to mix in a second light. Up until now, I’ve been a one-light shooter. Getting the flash off-camera was a priority early in my photography career, so now I’m trying to venture out into using 2 or 3 lights but still make the light “logical” so it doesn’t call attention to itself. The photo above uses the same lighting set-up as before but I added a bare 580 EXII with the wide panel to spread the light. You can see the affect it adds as a hair and rim light on Brenda’s right side (camera left).
Brenda and Kendal were great to work with and I’m looking forward to the baby shower in a couple of weeks. Check out the their gallery for more images from the shoot.
This is just a quick teaser on a photo shoot I did yesterday for one of the covers for the June issue of Baldwin Park Living Magazine. Yes, I said one of two covers…I’m shooting the other on Sunday.
(UPDATE 5/23/10: The shoot was cancelled so there will be only one cover.)
There are two meteorologists who live in Baldwin Park; Jason Brewer, with NBC affiliate WESH lives on my street. Brian Shields works for the ABC affiliate, WFTV (turns out Brian lives near me too).
I had two concepts in mind: the first was each of them toasting the other with tropical drinks, complete with little umbrellas. The other concept was the “sad-face-happy-face” of the drama masks. So I had Jason put on a rain coat and umbrella while Brian smiled with his shades on and his drink in hand.
The original picture I submitted to the editor would have cropped out the lightning in the upper left hand corner. So I made it rain on Jason instead. I’ll post the actual cover when I get the issue, but it’s basically cropped in on the sides to their elbows.
Recently, the organizer of the Orlando Digital Photography Group, Charlie, posted an image on Facebook of a man on a bicycle in Winter Park. It sparked some conversation about the panning technique where the man was in focus and the background is blurred to show motion.
I chimed in with some tips and a note about a setting on the Canon 70-200mm IS lens. It has two modes of stabilization, one to reduce shake in “normal” situations and one while panning. So when the Baldwin Park Doggie Derby rolled around last weekend, I thought it might be a good time to put it to use.
The 3rd annual Doggie Derby raises money for Canine Companions for Independence which provides assistant dogs to people with disabilities. It was a hot day but there was a good turnout. Adding to the vibe was bluegrass versions of popular songs like “Walk This Way”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Final Countdown” and “She Will Be Loved”.
The image above is really the only good panning shot I got. I got a few others, but they’re not tack sharp to my eyes. It takes some practice and experimenting with different shutter speeds.
I saw a couple of other photographers with pro-level gear there and judging by the pictures I’d seen of past events, they were getting the same shots; dogs coming right at them or dogs frozen in motion…and all while standing. I crouched or squatted down for most shots to get a different perspective. And I tried the panning technique to get a different look.
So the next time you’re out shooting a moving target, try it. First, make sure your camera’s focus mode is set to capture moving subjects (it’s called AI-Servo for Canon, AF-C for Nikon). Then focus on your subject and press the shutter half way. Pan with your subject and fire while panning. The slower the shutter speed, the more blurred the background; but you’ll have to play around with it to find the sweet spot. I can’t tell you how many shots I threw away!
You can check out more pics from the derby on my Flickr Pro photostream.
My last blog post was about copyright. I was planning to next write about “creative commons” license and why sometimes you might actually want to have your picture “stolen”. I’m still planning on writing about that, but something happened yesterday that kind of goes along with that concept.
The Baldwin Park Arts Festival took place Saturday, March 13. As a photographer for Baldwin Park Living Magazine, I have an understanding with the editor to document as many events as I can for the publication and the community Web site photo gallery.
The Arts Fest features local artists selling their work on an entire block in the heart of Baldwin Park. So I get there and I’m just not feeling it. I walked up the length of one side of the street and started down the other without having taken a single picture. Maybe these arts and crafts shows just aren’t my thing. Then I get to a lady painting and I think “great, an action shot”. A shot of someone doing something. So I take a picture. I walk a little farther and there’s another artist painting. I snap another picture…
He turns around and says, “Thanks for the exposure.” I take a second to figure out if he’s making a photography pun. I decide he’s not and tell him I’m with Baldwin Park Magazine. He says thanks again.
Ok, so now I’m warming up. I’ve taken a few pictures at this point when I see a girl with some money in her hand. This would be a great opportunity to get a shot of a sale. I spent almost a decade in broadcast news and I know that photojournalism is about telling a story; and isn’t the whole idea of this thing for artists to sell their work? I mean, it’s not a gallery exhibition. Let’s face it, if no one buys anything today, the event is a failure. This is literally “the money shot”.
So I take a picture…
I realize I didn’t compose properly; cutting off the girl’s head and getting an arm in the shot. So I recompose and I’m waiting for the right moment when the lady whose arm is in the shot turns around and says “no pictures please”. I tell her I’m with Baldwin Park Magazine and she says the artists don’t want pictures taken. I explain to her that this is a public area and that I have the right to take pictures. We go back and forth for a few minutes and I walk away.
First of all, I wasn’t taking pictures of the art work; some kind of jewelry I suppose. I was taking a picture of the transaction. Secondly, the picture is for editorial, not commercial use. Third, as a former journalist I know all about expectation of privacy and fair use. Lastly, if you don’t want your work seen, then stay home, don’t display your work in public or on the web and pray to god that someone finds your art. Is the fear that I’m going to go home, study the picture and copy the creation?
Hey, I get it. I’m a photographer. Everytime I post a picture online, be it my web site, Flickr or Facebook, there’s a chance someone will “steal” it. But there’s also a chance that someone who’s never heard of me will see my work. To protect myself, I take steps to guard my copyright. But I don’t take pictures so I can stuff them in a lock box. Isn’t that the proverbial ostrich with its head in the ground?
So I walk around a bit more and take another picture…
Again, the artist comes up to me and says “no pictures”. I tell him who I am and he says it’s ok. I asked him why I wouldn’t be allowed and he says, “with a camera like that, people can make good copies”. Ok, so I guess the thinking is that I’m going to sell a picture of his work? And would it be ok if I took a picture with, say, an 8 megapixel point-and-shoot? Couldn’t I make a good copy with that? What if I wanted to take a picture of someone with the art in the background? Would that be offensive?
This reminded me of a similar event I attended last year. A photographer had a booth set up and his pictures featured black and white images of statues. I thought, wow, that’s interesting. He didn’t sculpt the statue, he just took a picture of it and is selling it.
That issue is actually at the center of a lawsuit. You can read more about it at the Photo Attorney Blog. That case is a little different because I am there strictly for editorial reasons. Taking a picture of your art does not violate your copyright. What I do with that picture may or may not.
Bottom line: That first guy got it. He thanked me for the exposure. He took a look at my DSLR and assumed I was with some media organization before I even told him who I was. The pictures I take will be featured on a magazine spread that goes out to tens of thousands of Baldwin Park residents. What’s that you say? You don’t want free advertisement?
So now I want to hear from you. What do you think?
The moment you take a picture, it’s yours. You created it. You own the copyright. Copyright means just that: you have the right to copy it. So how do you protect your rights?
You can watermark your images (more on that later). You can post a disclaimer on your Facebook page. You can have a verbal agreement (this is about as good as a nod and a wink). But if someone really wants to use a picture you took, in a manner or for a purpose that you did not consent to, there’s not much stopping them.
The only way to protect your images in a court of law is to register the copyright.
Hey wait, come back! Yeah, I know; it’s not sexy. It’s not even fun. I mean I get it. As photographers we want to spend our time…uh…taking pictures! Who wants to edit? Learn about taxes and limited liability corporations? Booooring.
What’s really at stake here is money. You took the picture. If someone wants to use it for advertising or promotion, they should pay you for it. This is called “licensing” (more on that later too).
To quote the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP): “You do not have to register your work with the Copyright Office to acquire your copyright. However, the legal protections available to you are limited if the photographs are not registered. Those limitations can translate into lost income.”
Worth More Than A Thousand Words
Let me cut to the chase and then I’ll circle around again. It costs $35.
Hey wait, come back!
I know, I know. We’re saving every penny for that fast super-zoom lens! But first, you should know it’s not $35 per image. It’s $35 for a batch. As many as you can register during a one-hour session. Now think about it; how many pieces of photographic gear do you own that costs less than $35? I can think of two and one does nothing but blow air.
Now those 35-dollars can mean hundreds, thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars for you if someone infringes on your copyright. And it’s good for 70 years after you die!
So let’s say you copyright an image today. You die at age 100. Sixty-nine years later your great-great-great grandson discovers a picture you took being used in a Nike ad. Because you left your estate to your heirs…CHA CHING! Your great-great-great-great grandson can now go to college!
This scenario may seemed a little far-fetched. But only a little….
I first opened my eyes to the process of copyrighting through kelbytraining.com. I highly recommend the subscription, but you can watch the first three lessons of each course for free. Over there, Jack Reznicki and Ed Greenberg have a course on the topic and they walk you through the process of registering your work online. They tell the story of the late Stuart Gross who, in 1987, took a routine picture of 6-year old Lisa Steinberg . The little girl died 9 days later at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. The story made national headlines. The picture became evidence in court and was licensed to specific media outlets under specific conditions.
Greenberg says 22 years later the picture is still being infringed and he’s brought more than a dozen claims against some of the top media outlets in the country, including CBS News.
The photographer is dead. The picture lives on. And so does his copyright.
Go watch the course (at least the first 3 lessons) HERE.
THE eCO SYSTEM
No, not the eco-system. The eCO system. That’s the electronic copyright office. I’m going to cop-out here because I really cannot walk you through the process better than Carolyn Wright over at the Photo Attorney blog.
The entire article with step-by-step instructions is here:
If you prefer the video tutorial see the kelbytraining.com link above.
Chances are if someone is using your image, it isn’t malicious. They probably didn’t “steal” it. They’re probably just a little ignorant. If you find someone who infringed your copyright, don’t go calling the attorney just yet. In fact, a lawsuit is probably the last step. There are ways to deal with it. But try walking into an attorney’s office with your story and the first thing he or she will ask you is “Did you copyright it?”. If you didn’t, they probably won’t even take your case.
The first thing you should do is have a contract. Always. If you put someone in front of your lens, hand them a contract before you press the shutter. Shooting your best friend’s wedding? Shooting your neighbors newborn baby? Get a contract! What if that picture ended up in a bridal magazine ad or the cutest baby in the world billboard with NO compensation or credit to you? Get a contract and specify the use and terms. When Stuart Gross took that picture of the little girl, he never imagined it would become such a huge story, or that the image would be used 22 years later, even after his death.
Next, add your contact and copyright info to your metadata. If it’s in the metadata, someone can’t later say that they had no way of contacting you.
Disable “right-click” on your website so no one can right-click and “save” the image.
None of these options is fail-safe. Like I said if someone really wants your image, they’re gonna get it. But a combination of these methods will help protect you.
Let’s clear something up here. When someone pays you for a picture you are not selling the picture. You are not selling your copyright. You are selling a license for that person to use your picture in a specific way. Unless, it’s specified in a contract, or you are a work-for-hire photographer (that’s another blog for another day), you retain the copyright. Now a photographer can sell their copyright; but that will net him much more money than a license.
I use watermarks sparingly. I think they distract from the image. But something David Hobby wrote in 2007 has always stuck with me:
“The first thing I would do would be to lose the arty signatures embedded within the photos. Very “Buck’s County Arts and Crafts Show,” IMO. You want to be aiming higher than that. If you feel you must stick your name into the image area, make it very small, in a bottom corner, with a “©” symbol (created with an option “g”).”
Actually, the copyright symbol doesn’t even have to appear on your image to be protected. (source: ASMP Copyright Primer; link below)
I know this has been a long blog post. But it’s important. I’m not an attorney, so take this advice as a starting point only. And please check out the helpful links below. Those links have links within them that you should follow.
Look, you spent thousands of dollars on gear and all your free time taking and editing pictures. Why not protect them?
The Copyright Zone (Reznicki and Greenberg)
Photo Attorney (Carolyn Wright)
Just wanted to take a minute to share some of my recently published works. First up is the cover of the latest issue of Baldwin Park Living Magazine.
The shot shows Chris Lacey, Executive Chef at Jack’s Steakhouse in Baldwin Park, firing up a tasty dish. Baldwin Park is gearing up for the Food and Wine Festival in March to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. There are several events going on leading up to the festival. On this night, volunteers met at Jack’s for drinks and to discuss how to help sell tickets to the event. This past Thursday night, there was a “Martini Night” and fashion show (pictures may be forthcoming).
You might remember my blog titled “Dancing with the Dudes” from last November. It was about two male championship ballroom dancers. Well, the article is in the latest issue of Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine. You can read the entire article HERE.
More recently I wrote about a shoot I did for CFL Magazine. In the blog ,”Two Days, Two Shoots” from last month, I talked about the headshot I did for Winter Park financial advisor Hera Bakthy. Well that shot was also in the latest issue. That article is HERE (no picture in online version).
I also wrote about the Steinway Society of Central Florida donating a piano to Stetson University Student Heidi Ordaz. You can read the full article HERE.
Well, that’s it for now. I recently shot two events for Baldwin Park Living, including that fashion show I mentioned. Stay tuned for those pics in the next issue!
Jim and Heather Fritz are my awesome neighbors. I’ve snapped pictures of their precious kids, Marley and Zeno before. I only had my camera for a few months when I took this one and this one. It’s amazing to me to realize how much I’ve learned about photography since then. So when they asked if I could take their family photo I was excited to put everything I’ve learned sinced then into practice.
We headed out to a little lake a block or so from our houses and snapped a few pics.
What a great looking family!