Most of the luxury homes I photograph have at least one room dedicated to entertainment. Maybe it’s a pool table in the garage, or an in-home movie theater. Then there’s the in-home bowling alley. But a recent shoot took the cake for the number of arcade games in one room.
It’s one thing to add six arcade machines in what used to be a garage; but the homeowner went the extra step of knocking out a bedroom and bathroom to add another machine…
..and did I mention the 80-inch LCD TV?
Who needs bedrooms and bathrooms in a house when you’ve got an arcade? Actually, that red sofa does have a pull out bed.
Here are a couple more looks at the room:
All this just leaves one question: Can I borrow some tokens?
This was probably my most unique assignment to date. I got a request not too long ago asking me how much I would charge to photograph one room. I thought, “Just one room? That’s odd.” I asked for more information and found out this was a bowling alley inside someone’s house! The lanes were installed by Fusion Bowling and they install private bowling alleys. Talk about a niche market!
I showed up for the job in a very exclusive community and found out the home belongs to a professional major league baseball player. The bowling alley is actually on the second floor.
The shoot was pretty straight forward. The lanes create natural leading lines that make composition a no-brainer. The client asked if I shot HDR. I told him I don’t because I generally don’t like the look of HDR; it just doesn’t look realistic. I have seen some interior photographers use HDR in a style I like, but I haven’t figured out the technique. Every HDR I’ve tried always has that “HDR look”. I prefer a natural look so I take multiple exposures and blend them using masks. I did take several exposures in this case specifically for HDR and I might post an update so you can see the comparison. I’m currently reading RC Concepcion’s “The HDR Book” to see if I can learn something new.
You can see more images from the shoot in the gallery; and don’t forget you can like, comment on, rate and share individual images on my site. Give it a try!
I recently had the opportunity to go on a commercial photography shoot for a spa owner I’ve worked with in the past. The owner is opening up a new spa at the beautiful Bella Collina Golf Club. The clubhouse is designed to look like a Tuscan villa and the architecture is breathtaking.
The shoot consisted of two models portraying a couple and enjoying the spa services; including an outdoor massage, pictured above. For that shot, the owner wanted the setting sun’s rays breaking below the archway. So I set my aperture to f/22 to get the star-effect from the sun. I also had an off-camera flash with a CTO gel camera left to help overpower the sun. I also took a second exposure to bring back some detail in the sky and blended it in the final image.
For this shoot, much like the last with the spa owner he would look at my LCD screen to evaluate the image. While this might drive most photographers nuts, I actually prefer it. This way, I know exactly what the client wants and he can give me immediate feedback. Granted, I wouldn’t work the same way for, say, a wedding or portrait session. It was also nice because the owner would help stage shots and direct the models.
I’ll post a link to the entire image gallery once the client has had a chance to review and download all the images.
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.
If any of you have seen the profile picture on my “Harry Lim Photography” fan page on Facebook, then you know I shot a wedding recently. Oh, and thanks to my assistant for the day, Todd Salter for taking that picture and all his help on that day.
It was Megan and Eric’s wedding in Sorrento, FL. It was a small but elegant affair in the backyard of their beautiful home. Below are a few composites I made from the images of that day.
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.
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.
So I tried something new last weekend. I’ve never shot a sporting event nor have I ever shot a concert. Now I know what both feel like!
My girlfriend’s cousin, Jordan, was competing in the Cheerleaders of America (COA) “Ultimate National Championship” at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL. If you’ve ever caught a glimpse of a cheer competition on TV, let me tell you, you have no idea what it’s like to actually be there.
The hotel grounds were teeming with teams of tweens…sorry, couldn’t help myself! But seriously, how else would you describe hundreds (maybe thousands) of pre-teen girls wearing WAY too much make-up and cheerleading uniforms? I’m guessing the heavy make-up is meant for the judges to see from where they’re sitting…if they happen to be sitting on the planet Mars.
But let me cut to the chase. Jordan’s team, Top Gun, was on; so I enter the competition room. It was dark and loud. Let me emphasize the word LOUD. If you like dark rooms with loud techno/dance music blaring, you would feel right at home…glow sticks optional. When I got in, the team before Top Gun was wrapping up. So I took this time to figure out my exposure. But it wasn’t long before I had to head to the front when Jordan’s team came in.
I was shooting with my 70-200 f/2.8 lens. I like to shoot in manual mode, so I dialed in f/2.8, at 250th of a second and ISO about 800. I don’t like shooting at high ISO, but even with the stage lights, I needed it. I also didn’t want to shoot at f/2.8 because I knew I could run into a depth of field problem if I wanted more than one part of the image in focus; but I needed the large aperture to let in more light.
Things moved so fast…and I don’t just mean the cheerleaders. I mentioned concert photography earlier because it’s similar in a couple respects: you have stage lights, but you only have about 3 minutes to get the shot. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to look at my LCD and evaluate the shot. I was shooting on burst mode; 6.5 frames per second and focusing mostly on Jordan. At one point I switched to shutter priority and was around 350th of a second. I was really trying to capture the flipping sequences.
Looking at some of the frames, they’re still not tack sharp. If I get to do it again, I’d shoot at a minimum of 350th, boost the ISO to maybe 1600 and a narrower f-stop.
About 3 minutes later it was all over. The Top Gun teams (there are different classes) took the All Stars Level, 2,3 and 5 Grand Champion titles. See this link for the full results, if you’re interested. We took the rest of the afternoon to walk around the hotel and enjoy the pool. If you’ve never been to Gaylord Palms, I recommend going just to see the inside. It is massive. They have a tropical atrium complete with alligators and turtles. Click the link above to see a picture on their home page.
All in all, I’m glad I got to try something new; it was definitely a learning experience that tested me while pushing me outside my comfort level.
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)