Shooting the Supermoon of 2014

Thursday on Jan 30th is the night of the Supermoon. The supermoon  won't be a full moon. It will be a new moon. Watch for slightly higher-than usual tides. Depending on your location and weather conditions you could have a great photo opportunity. The best time to take a look at this full, perigee moon is when the moon is located near the horizon. Direct your eyes to the eastern horizon during the 7 and 8 o'clock hour. Low-hanging Moons have a tendency to look unnaturally large when framed through trees, buildings and other foreground objects. We've all seen the photos with an airplane passing in front of a full moon. Having an object in the foreground will make a more interesting photo and give a nice sense of scale with the moon in the background.

Here are a few tips when attempting to photograph a full moon. Set your camera on a nice sturdy tripod. Use a cable release if possible. If not , you can use your cameras self timer. Next turn your autofocus off. You heard me right, turn it off. Most cameras have a terrible time with low-light shooting. Low-light shooting can cause a cameras autofocus system to constantly hunt in the dark. Autofocus is simply not needed for shooting a full moon. Simply set your lens to infinity. As to setting up a proper exposure, believe it or not, shooting a full moon is very much like shooting on a bright sunny day. The light reflected on the full moon is almost the same as the sun during the day here on earth.. We all have heard of the sunny 16 rule from time to time, that would be my starting pointing. Set your camera to it's lowest native ISO speed, that would be generally ISO 100 for Canon,  or ISO 200 for Nikon SLR's. Set your Shutter speed to 125 with a aperture of f16. That would be a good starting point.

Take a few test shots and adjust your exposure up or down a 1/2 stop or 2, ensuring the moon has some detail. the most common mistake is a over exposed moon that looks like a lifeless glowing ball, with no detail or surface shadows. Most of all, get out and have some fun. Remember, photos are made, not taken.

LightRoom Photo PitStop - Dead Horse Point

Welcome to our very first LightRoom Photo Pit-Stop. Each week we'll select a user submitted photo, and show you how we would process the RAW image in LightRoom. If you would like to submit a photo for a LightRoom Pitstop, send us your photo via email to: deadhorsebeforedeadhorseafter


Want a Challenge? Try a 50/50 Photowalk

camera picWant a Challenge? Challenge yourself with a 50/50 Photowalk. Arm yourself with a fast 50mm lens, and commit to taking a picture every 50 feet. It's a challenging exercise for a photowalk, and you'll learn a lot. A fixed focal length lens will cause you think and frame shots differently. Being forced to take a picture every 50 feet opens your eyes to see detail and really simulates your creative juices. You'll be surprised at the results. So get out there and shoot, and remember, pictures are made, not taken.

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Photowalking

What exactly is Photowalking? Photowalking has taken America by storm, and has become one of the fastest growing activities throughout the land. The introduction of the digital camera has brought photography to the masses, and made it affordable for everyone to enjoy. Digital cameras have literally changed the world. The digital camera has caused a revival with America’s love for photography.

Photowalking is the act of walking around with your camera and photographing your surroundings. The term photowalking, has recently become synonymously known as a social gathering of photographers, walking in predetermined locations and then sharing their imagery. Alone or with a group, the purpose is still the same and that is to go out and enjoy photography.

Photowalking is now photography’s hottest ticket! So let’s get started.

Submit a Photowalk

Hands-On With the Nikon D7000

Nikon D7000 Hands On

Let me make this is very simple, if your in the market for a new prosumer level DSLR camera, then stop reading this article and run out and buy this camera. With a street price of $1200 dollars, the Nikon D7000 is best in it's class. It's simply that good. This camera is brilliant to hold and to use. The D7000 offers a 16.2MP CMOS Sensor, 6 frames per second, full 1080p HD Video, and a 39 point Auto Focus system - which really is superb in this price bracket and which helps to generate superb image quality. The camera's low light performance is clean at 1600 ISO and usable up to 6400. Being able to shoot in low light can open up a whole new world of photo opportunities..

In the past week I've shot about 300+ pictures with Nikon D7000 and and I am very impressed with the quality of the pictures, and the ease of use with the camera. You might be tempted to think it's just a glorified D90, but you would wrong. It's a much better than the D90, and in my opinion, better than the D300s which sells for hundreds of dollars more.

All in all, the Nikon D7000 is an excellent enthusiast's DSLR. The camera produces great image quality, and really shines in low light. The Nikon D7000 is in a class by itself..Nikon is blurring the line between pro level and prosumer level cameras and the consumer is the winner.

A Photowalkers New Best Friend

sun[tweetmeme source="photowalkinglife"]Today's Digital cameras LCD screens are great for viewing our shots indoors or even in partial shade, but in direct sunlight, the harsh sun rays all but completely wash out our ability to review our work in the field. Meet the photowalkers newest best friend. The HoodLoupe from Hoodman. The HoodLoupe 3.0 Professional is worn around your neck just like a normal loupe. When it is time to review your shot; bring the HoodlLoupe up to your image and place your eye up to the eye cup for complete glare free viewing. The HoodLoupe has a +-3 diopter to accommodate those with less than perfect vision. HoodLoupe adjusts focus just like a binocular eye piece... you turn the eye piece in or out to set for your vision. Minimal magnification is used to eliminate visual pixilation of your image. Each Hoodloupe is encased in a user friendly rubber for comfort and protection from bumps that will occur throughout your shoot. Comfortable lanyard and compact protective storage case included. Fits up to 3.0 inch LCD screens. Now for the downside, it's pricey at $79.99 but, in my opinion, it's well worth it. h-lpp30

Want more interesting photos? Give them a twist!

pic-cubeAre you tired of the same old tired looking snapshots of your friends and family? Give your photos a twist, or to be more accurate, give your photos a Dutch Tilt. A Dutch Tilt is a cinematic technique used to portray the uneasiness or tension in the subject being filmed. I personally think the Dutch Tilt offers much more to photos than it's definition.  I think the Dutch Tilt can bring more interestingness to any photo. So how do you go about creating a Dutch Tilt? It's easy.. Normally you hold your camera even with the horizon, this is called  "Landscape Mode".  If you turn your camera on it's side, this is called "Portrait Mode". Hold your camera at any angle in between, that's a Dutch Tilt!


As humans, we are all too often compelled to follow the rules,  living each day within the lines of what is proper or expected.  Think about this, almost 99% of all photographs taken, are shot in landscape mode. Less than 1% of all photographs taken taken in portrait mode.  

Using a Dutch Tilt is breaking the rules of what is expected or ordinary. Photographs taken with a Dutch Tilt can add interest to almost any photo in the right situations. Dutch Tilt,  give it try...

Shooting in the fall

October is one of the best times for a photowalk. October offers a window of opportunity for photographing fall colors at their peak.  The window for capturing dramatic and dynamic fall images, is short. Don’t put off taking that photo because fall is a time of change, and you think things will look the same tomorrow, but they wont. Here are some basic tips for photographing in the fall.

Shoot early and late in the day. Try to shoot a half-hour before and after sunrise or sunset. The colors will be noticeably richer, the shadows deeper, textures and forms stronger. Early morning is one of the best times to capture the color of fall reflected in a pond or lake as the water is usually still and the light is coming in at a low angle.

Shoot right after a rain storm. The light is usually more dramatic, and wet leaves, structures, and even roads take on more vibrant, intense color tones.

Shoot from all angles. Move around to find the most dramatic composition.  A few steps can make the difference. Experiment.

Look for contrasting colors. Include visually opposing colors in your photo for dramatic contrasts and more intense color. A bright orange tree will look even brighter when photographed next to a green evergreen.

Try using a warm polarizer filter when you’re shooting colorful red and orange trees. Another option is to increase your cameras saturation settings to produce vivid punchy colors, consult your camera’s manual to see if you have the ability to boost the saturation settings. You'll be sure to be please with the results.

October is a wonderful time of the year for photographs. Be sure and get out and shoot.

Old Sacramento Gold Rush Photowalk

  This labor day weekend I had a great photowalk event at the Old Sacramento Gold Rush Festival. This was a photowalking opportunity I couldn't pass up. More than 200 tons of dirt was dumped on the streets of Old Sacramento as the annual festival “turns back the clock,” transforming Sacramento’s historic district into a scene straight out of the 1850s. Complete with Costumed re-enactors, Wild West gun fights, musicians playing period instruments, and many aspects of life during the Gold Rush era.


Here a couple of shots from the event. Old Sacramento Gold Rush Festival Old Sacramento Gold Rush Old Sacramento Gold Rush Festival

Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB)

Yesterday we talked about the Fill Flash Technique, as a useful tool in tricky lighting conditions. Today well talk about another technique called Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB). So what exactly is Auto Exposure Bracketing? Autobracketing is a feature found on more advanced cameras, mostly, DSLR cameras, but I have seen Autobracketing starting to show up even in some of the high-end point and shoots.

Simply put, AEB is where the camera will automatically take several successive shots (usually a series of three) with slightly different exposure settings. Depending on your cameras AEB settings, the difference between each of the autobracketed shots could be anywhere up to two stops in each direction, in half-stop or one-third stop increments.

The reason you do this is because the camera might have been deceived by the light (too much or too little) available and your main subject may be over- or under-exposed. By taking three differently exposed shots, you are making sure that if this were ever the case, then you would have properly compensated for it.

As an example, say you are taking a scene where there is an abundance of light around your main subject (for example, at the beach on a sunny day, or surrounded by snow). In this case, using Weighted-Average metering, your camera might be 'deceived' by the abundance of light and expose for it by closing down the aperture and/or using a faster shuter speed, with the result that the main subject might be under-exposed. By taking an extra shot at a slight over-exposure, you would in fact be over-exposing the surroundings, but properly exposing the main subject.

Anytime your photographing a subject with tricky lighting or lots of variation between bright and darker areas. Anytime you feel the scene is a challenging one (too much highlights or shadows).  For example, sunrise/sunsets are usually better taken slightly under-exposed so using Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) here is a great idea.

To sum things up, be sure and use AEB whenever you want to be sure you don't improperly expose a fabulous shot that you may not get the chance to go back and take again. Use AEB whenever you want to be absolutely sure you have the best exposure possible.

Which lens is best for photowalking?

I get asked this question all the time. Which lens to buy for photo-walking? I don't normally give away trade secrets, but here it is.. It's model number 56-67850..Wait.. I'm of course kidding.  :-) The correct answer of course, is it depends on the type of photowalk your embarking on. If your photowalk is taking you through lots of beautiful vistas and landscapes, a nice wide angle lens would be ideal. On the other hand,  If your photowalk is taking place in more of a urban setting,  then, maybe a longer tele-zoom would suit you better.

For me, I've gotten in the habit of carrying  2 main lens with me on all photowalks. I carry a 24-105mm f/4, and a 70-200mm f/2.8. I find that these two lens are usually more than ample to cover most shooting situations.

Even if you don't own a DSLR, most of today's point and shoot cameras are outfitted with great general purpose lens. My little Canon G9 is outfitted with a 35-210mm lens, which is perfect for photowalking.  Remember, photowalking is about the experience, not how expensive you gear is.

So get out and photowalk this weekend!

If you have a question on photowalking or photography, or would just like to suggest a topic for us to cover, be sure and drop us a line. You can email us at:

Multi-point vs Single Point AF

Today's cameras provide fast, reliable, auto focus systems (AF). Most modern cameras are now equipped with multi-point AF sensors that do a great job provide quick high-speed tracking for our subjects. As great as the technology is, it can't read your mind. Even the most advance auto focus system cannot determine your photographic intentions. With subjects at various distances from the camera, a multi-point AF system will often focus on the nearest reliable target. Undoubtedly there will be times the cameras auto focus will focus on the wrong subject, giving you less than desirable results.

Instead of relying on your cameras auto focus to make decisions for you. Why not break away from the point-and-shoot approach, and tell the camera exactly where you want the focus.

Most cameras today, that offer multi-point AF, allow you to manually select which focus point to use to ensure focus on your intended subject, and give your photos the results you want.

I recommend setting your camera to use a single focus point. In my opinion, using the method of Focus and Compose, is the most effective method of getting accurate shots.

To use this method, simply set your cameras AF to only use the center focus point. The rest is strictly technique. When taking a picture, position the camera's center AF point directly on the subject you wish to be focused on, then activate your cameras AF Lock by pressing the shutter button down halfway. Once your cameras signals you a focus lock, (usually a audio beep or the center AF point in the view finder will light up). Continue to hold the shutter down halfway, then recompose your shot.

We've all seen those fantastic portraits were the models eyes just draw you in. In these type of portrait shots, we generally want to focus on the eyes. This effect can rarely be achieved in a point-and-shoot mode with multi-point AF.

Using the Focus and Recompose Method, we simply place the center AF point directly on the subjects eyes, lock the focus, and recompose, once composed, take the shot.

This will take some practice, but the results are well worth it.

Photo Tip of the Day

[tweetmeme]Want to be a better photographer? Get out and shoot. Believe it or not, the more you shoot, better you'll get. Experiment, get creative. Too many of us are just too busy with everyday life, meanwhile were letting life pass us by. It's time to slow down, get out of our cars, take the day off, and go for a photowalk. Photowalking allows you to see the world in a different way. So come on, get out and shoot!

Peace of Mind

How much would you pay for piece of mind? Do you have a current backup of all your photos? I bet the majority of you answered; 'No'. Let's face it, backing up our photos is a time consuming task, and takes a discipline few of us have. At least on a regular basis. With the introduction of digital photography, the average person now a days stores thousands and thousands of photos of their computer. Most of these photos are priceless, irreplaceable memories of friends and family.

Businesses know how to protect their data from failure and loss, they use technology to automate, and prevent data loss. Using both hardware and software to protect their corporate data. But what about us common folks?

The answer is Drobo. Automated no Headache Data Redundancy System. Drobo utilizes a revolutionary storage technology that makes it simple for anyone to use, yet is powerful enough for business. Once you experience the power of Drobo, the idea of keeping multiple external drives or a RAID 5 array will seem as antiquated as that 300Kbps modem in the back of your closet.

Drobo Features

  • Redundant data protection
  • Hot swappable expandable drives up to 16TB
  • Mix n Match Drives cap
  • Both Firewire 800 and USB 2.0

As your library of data grows, now your storage solution can too. Drobo holds up to four hard drives, and can expand at any time, it supports up to 16TB on a single volume.

Drobo is Self-Healing

When Drobo detects a "bad" hard disk, it proactively advises you with a series of warnings ranging from a blinking red LED on its front panel, to pop-up alerts in Drobo Dashboard, to email alerts. What Drobo does next is exceptional. Drobo enters self-healing mode where it repairs around the bad sector or bad disk, working until it returns to the safest state possible. If Drobo has sufficient time and free capacity (indicated by all lights returning to a solid green state), it can even withstand a second hard disk failure. That's the power of self-healing. Unlike other storage arrays, Drobo doesn't just sit around and beep at you when something is awry—it takes the set of actions available to it to fix the problem without human intervention.

Check out Drobo for yourself. Click here to see drobo in action. :-)

Image Stabilization

Image Stabilization is going to be your new best friend, and in my opinion, a mandatory tool in every photographers arsenal. Image Stabilization, or 'IS' for short, can help you get a much sharper images then normally possible when hand-holding a camera. In fact, it's so important to helping me get great shots I won't buy a lens or camera without it. In fact even my point-and-shoot G9 has IS built-in. Both Canon and Nikon offer fantastic image stabilization. Canon uses the term IS (Image Stabilization) and Nikon's VR (Vibration Reduction). VR and IS are the same, and both terms are interchangeably. Each camera manufacturer uses their own acronyms. Both IS & VR stabilizes images from the unsteadiness of hand-holding a camera. IS helps you times using a tripod is not possible or practical, IS lets you shoot in bad light and slower shutter speeds.

How it works: Now I'm not a expert of techincal operation of IS, but here's my best attempt at the techincal way it works. Image stabilization helps to steady the image projected back into the camera by the use of a "floating" optical element—often connected to a fast spinning gyroscope—which helps to compensate for high frequency vibration (hand shake for example) at these long focal lengths. Sorry thats as technical as you can get from me.. :-)

A new comer in the DSLR market is Sony which has moved the Image Stabilization normally contained in the lens to the camera body itself.(formerly technology developed from Minolta). The stated advantage is not having to to buy lens with the expensive IS technology.

IS and VR work great for subjects that hold still, However, image stabilization does not prevent motion blur caused by the movement of the subject or by extreme movements of the camera. Image stabilization is only designed for reducing blur that results from normal, minute shaking of a lens due to hand-held shooting. Image Stabilization does nothing for fast moving objects such as sports, and small children. :-)

Image stabilization technology, has recently become more and more available to the average photographer. Over the years, the technology has greatly improved, and is available in a much wider range of cameras and lenses from several different manufacturers. IS is an enabling and liberating technology. It helps photographers of all abilities get noticeably better results.

I highly recommend Image Stabilization.

Lens Hoods - Why you need them

  Lens hoods play a very important role, especially in outdoor photography. Despite it's importance, it's still one of the most overlooked items by the average photographer. A lens hoods primary function is to prevent unwanted light from hitting the lens. Without the protection of a lens hood, unwanted side light will hit the lens, reducing contrast, and possibly create nasty lens flare. Lens flare can destroy an otherwise fine photograph.


The lens hoods also serve a second function, that being one of protection. With a lens hood installed you’re less likely to accidentally touch the optics. If you’re photographing small children or animals at close range this will also help you from getting unwanted smudges on the lens, because we all know how much kids and animals love shiny things. 

Now for the downside. Lens hoods are expensive! Each lens has a specific matching lens hood. How expensive you ask? The average cost of a lens hood is generally around $30. That's some very expensive plastic!  

All in all, lens hoods are a vital tool, and worth the investment.

Find the Picture in the Picture

  Photographers take great care to show their photos at there best, and would never think of letting you see a raw unfinished photo. What's  the difference between a snapshot and a masterpiece? Sometimes it's just the ability to see the picture in the picture. Of course I'm talking about photo cropping.

When I decided to write this article, I immediately ran through my photo collection looking for the worst possible photograph that I could find, just to illiterate that even a bad photo can be cropped into a good one.

This is a photograph of my brother on a recent visit.

There's not much right about this photograph, but we can still save it. Let's see, the background is terrible, the left side is dark and under exposed, the right side is just plain boring. The door frame molding is coming directly off my brothers head, I also have a casted shadow onto the background.. What was I thinking!

I wasn't.. I was a normal everyday person, taking a quick snapshot of my brother before he left for LA. Well, when you think about it.. isn't this a typical snapshot we take all the time? Sure it is..


So let's look at this picture and find the picture in the picture. Look at my brother's natural pose, and great smile.  This is a candid for a portrait. Yep! I think I'll crop this photo from a landscape mode to portrait. 










We have uncovered the "picture in the picture"!



Of course we could stop here, but I was still bothered by that background, even through the picture cropped is a vast improvement already. I decided to go one step further, and remove the background using photoshop.


There we are! A everyday snapshot turned into a masterpiece suitable for framing.. :-)

Protect Your Investment

Lenses can be a very expensive investment. Good lenses can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Such a investment is worth protecting. And it's easy to do. Simply by installing a ultra-violet filter (UV filter). A UV filter is a simple piece of glass that screws on to the front of your lens and protects it from scratches, dust, dirt, moisture and fingerprints while reducing unwanted ultra-violet light. Remember, it's far cheaper to replace a scratched filter than your $1000 lens.

When shopping for filters be sure and buy a high quality multi-coated glass. Be sure and stay away from cheap UV filters as cheap plastic filters will degrade your picture quality. One of the best  UV filters is the B+W MRC UV , it's made from high quality glass and I consider this the best UV filter available.