Monday, 22 of December of 2014

Profiles in Photography: Edward Burtynsky

This week’s Profiles in Photography focuses on Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky is best known for his sweeping views of industrial landscapes including beaches, mines, quarries, and scrap piles. His work has been exhibited around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum and the Bibliothèque Nationale. He is frequently cited as one of the top modern photographers in the world and his work is as inspiring as some of the great photographers from history such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson, both of whom Burtynsky claims as influences on his own work.

Burtynsky grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario where his father worked in a General Motors plant. In the 1970s, Edward’s father made a purchase that would change his son’s life. He bought a darkroom, cameras, instruction manuals, and developing chemicals from the widow of an amateur photographer. Together with his sister, the three of them soon learned how to make black and white photographs and began experimenting with different photography and darkroom techniques. Edward’s sister started a small business as a portrait photographer while Edward himself began taking night classes in photography, eventually entering the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.

Burtynsky’s technique involves using a large format field camera to take extremely large photos of a landscape or vista. He also prefers an aerial perspective, seeking to find a high vantage point where he can get a broad, yet detailed, view of the subject of his photo. One wonders if, with the growing popularity of drone photography gear, Burtynsky will begin using such devices in his own work.

Should ever get the chance to see one of his exhibits, it is well worth the effort. Edward Burtynsky truly is one of the great artistic and landscape photographers of the modern era.

— da Bird


5 Tips for Halloween Photography

Halloween is just around the corner and that means that everyone is trying to out-spook everyone else in coming up with the greatest yard decorations, pranks in the garage, and set-up for trick-or-treaters. It also means that just about every child is eagerly anticipating getting to put on a costume and go out after dark in search of candy and more. Halloween is a very special time for kids and it’s also a great time for photography. Follow our tips below to ensure that this Halloween’s photos are precious memories instead of pesky annoyances!

1) Don’t delay the trick-or-treating — Kids get excited about getting in their costumes and getting out there to get as much candy as they can carry. So, try to take the photos of them in their costumes a day or two before Halloween. Otherwise, they’re going to be rebellious and impatient if you wait until the day itself.

2) Let the kids set the pose — Your kids will have definite ideas about what they should be doing to show off the full effect of their costume. Let them decide on the general poses they want to do and (if you have more than one child), let them argue it out and just help them to compromise for multiple scene set-ups. Suggest changes and explain them but, overall, let your kids participate in the set-up as much as you can.

3) Tone the lights down — This is especially true for costumes that have plastic masks. The plastic can reflect the light badly, washing out the entire photo. Use linens and other light-colored but semi-transparent fabrics to soften the light from lamps. Make tin-foil light bouncers to help redirect other lighting sources.

4) Be ready to get in the frame yourself — This means have a tripod and a means of checking and remotely taking the photo. Your kids may want you to be involved in whatever scene they’re creating. As advised in #2, let them set the stage and go along with it, within reason.

5) Show the triumphant trick-or-treaters — On Halloween itself, once your children are back from making their rounds, talk them into taking a few photos showing off the candy and other goodies they’ve gotten. These will be some of the best “taken on the day of” Halloween photos you can get since the kids will be happy. Again, let them set up the poses a bit and then have fun!

Halloween is a great kid’s holiday — growing up, it was easily my favorite holiday. Don’t make getting photos of your kids in costume a hassle this Halloween. Take some of our advice and make great memories instead of grumpy ones. Also, share your photos with us and let us know if you have any further questions or suggestions in the comments below!

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another busy week in the world of photography has come to a close and this one has been filled with momentous events around the world. There were the protests in Hong Kong, the eruption of a volcano in Japan, Ebola cases in the United States, and more major stories for photojournalists to be out capturing (safely, we hope!). Atop all that, photographers have been offering advice for newbies and for those who are trying to get into nature, wildlife, and seasonal photography. We’ve been giving advice for families who have school-aged children and want to get the best school photos they can.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. For those of you who aren’t following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights below!


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Michael Muller

Profiles in Photography: Michael Muller

This week we’re profiling American celebrity portrait photographer Michael Muller. Muller’s work includes portraits of Joaquin Phoenix, Robert Downey Jr., Shepard Fairey, Hugh Jackman, and Alec Baldwin. He’s also known for his underwater shark photography involving close-ups of some of nature’s deadliest creatures.

Muller differentiates himself from other celebrity photographers by his unique approach to photographing them. Instead of just relying on actors to come into his studio for pre-arranged appointments or trying to mimic a scene or set from a film, Muller goes on set and captures the actors while they’re in character and in costume. He works using mostly quick and easy poses that would fit naturally with the character the actor is currently portraying. Muller strives to be as quick as possible when doing these shots so that he does not disrupt filming.

In his underwater photography, Muller has spent much time and money developing a patented lighting rig that he can take with him in order to capture the fatal beauty of some of nature’s aquatic wildlife. He prefers to dive without a cage, relying on his metallic shark-suit to keep him safe while he photographs these oceanic predators up-close and personally.

In recent days, Muller has teamed up with his friend and fellow photographer Patrick Hoelck to launch the PhotoSchool project which is aimed at introducing people to the world of photography and helping them to advance in the craft. More information is available at his website so head over there and learn more about Michael Muller, his work, and his passion!

— da Bird

Photos by: Michael Muller


How To Photograph a Solar Eclipse

How To Photograph a Solar Eclipse

October 23 will play host to a partial solar eclipse visible through most of North America. Keep an eye on your local news and check your calendar to see exactly when this event will occur for you. And, for the photographers out there who want to capture this event, there’s still time to make the necessary preparations to ensure that your eyes and your camera survive directly looking into the sun.

1) Pick the right lens — The longer the focal point on the lens, the more you’ll be able to capture. Remember that the sun is really far away (compared to anything on Earth) so you’ll want something that can focus on a very distant object and zoom in on it.

2) Know your exposure — Solar eclipses require very different exposure settings than other events. Check this chart to see what settings you’ll want to use in order to capture the eclipse in all of its stages.

3) Get a tripod — For any kind of astrophotography, you’ll want a tripod to prevent camera shake. So, invest in a good one that you can adjust easily and practice using it before the eclipse. Waiting until the last minute to test new gear is a bad idea.

4) Get a Solar filter — It’s easy to mess up the optics, lenses, and chips in your camera if you don’t get a special solar filter designed for to protect your equipment for this kind of photography. Do the same if you’re planning to observe through a telescope or binoculars.

5) Get #14 welders glass — These glasses can protect your eyes for direct observation. Don’t use them and then look through a telescope or camera, though. And don’t use sunglasses thinking they’ll protect you — sunglasses will actually make it worse as your pupils will widen to allow in more light to compensate for the darkened lenses.

Solar eclipses are wonderful events and very memorable. I still remember watching my first solar eclipse as a kid, using a cereal box as a pinhole camera so I could “watch” it safely. With a few simple precautions, you can not only watch a solar eclipse, you can record it for posterity as well!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Jim Richardson

This week our profiles in photography is focusing on well-known landscape photographer Jim Richardson. Jim Richardson has been a photographer with National Geographic and TRAVELER magazines for many years and has traveled far and wide to capture the story of the changes humanity brings to the land it lives upon — some good, some bad. However, when he is at home, he is still working, producing black-and-white photos of daily life in rural Kansas.

The strict rules that National Geographic places on its photographer regarding editing images have given Richardson’s photographs a solid realism that is often lacking in more modern landscape photography which relies heavily on HDR, panoramic images, and other digital techniques that cannot be replicated in a darkroom environment. His portfolio shows that he is an extremely talented photographer who is able to capture the majesty of nature without having to embellish anything. I particularly love the image of the Storr on the Isle of Skye. Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and Richardson captures it well.

Landscape photography is not something that is easy to do. It takes patience, attention to detail, and great knowledge of your gear in order to photograph Mother Nature in her wild glory. Jim Richardson is one of the best landscape photographers of our era and we hope to see him continue to pursue his passion for many years yet to come.

— da Bird


10 Tips for Senior Yearbook Portrait Photography

With school back in session, photo days are on the schedule for many students and their families. Earlier, we discussed ways to improve the quality of yearbook photos. Today, we’d like to focus on a special sub-genre of yearbook photography: the Senior Portrait.

Senior Portraits are probably the most unique yearbook photos taken. Generally, throughout the US, seniors are given a particular appointment with a special photographer who will be in charge of senior portraits only at that time. Therefore, senior photos usually do not occur during the same time frame as the other yearbook photos. They may be scheduled during the summer break with the in-coming seniors being photographed one-by-one then. They may be scheduled during the latter part of the fall semester or during the spring semester. Also, these sessions run much differently than normal yearbook photo sessions and will generally come with instruction packets that request the student bring or wear certain clothing or avoid certain clothing. Pay attention to these as the photographer is not sending this packet just to be a control freak. Beyond that, follow our tips below to get the best senior photos you can.

1) Check the previous yearbook senior photos – The photos that run in the yearbook for the senior class almost always keep the same style. For most schools, this means that the backdrop will be a single-toned neutral or dark color (generally grey or black) and that the young men will all wear tuxedo shirts, bow ties, and black jackets. The young women will all appear to be wearing a gown that is off-the-shoulder. Check the style of the classes before yours and be prepared for that.

2) Prepare for the formal attire photo – Men will need to bring a plain white dress shirt that is appropriate for a tuxedo. Women will need to bring a bra that is either strapless or one where the straps can be slipped down beneath the draping without causing a wardrobe malfunction.

3) Ladies, bring your mother, sister, or a good female friend – The ladies’ photos do not actually require them to wear a dress. Instead, they will be given a drape of cloth and sent to the restroom to put it on. It will need to go over their arms and generally closes in the back with clothes pins or another simple (yet adjustable) closing mechanism. Drape the cloth over your chest so that it covers everything decently, adjust your bra straps as needed, and then have someone else pull it over your arms and snug behind you to pin it. Unless you have magical powers, you are not going to be able to do this on your own.

4) Know the hairstyle you’ll be using – Unless the session indicates that there will be time for multiple wardrobe changes and hairstyle changes, plan to use the same hairstyle in all of the photos. If you have an appointment that will allow you to visit a stylist in advance, feel free to do that. Otherwise, make certain that you can not only get your hair styled the way you want but that you can fix it quickly on your own or with whoever you have helping you.

5) Arrive at least ten minutes early – This will give you time to prepare for the formal photo (it’s usually the first shot that is done) and to make any last-minute fixes to your hair or make-up. Speaking of which…

6) Be conservative with the make-up – Go easy on the toner, base/foundation, and powder. Use an eyeshadow that compliments your irises (this is frequently the color that is opposite your eye color on a color wheel). Short hand is: use honey/gold/orange if you have blue eyes, lilac/lavender/light purple for green eyes, blue/cyan/pink for brown eyes (variable depending on the tint), etc. Keep your blush/rouge under control and looking like a healthy glow and choose a shade of lipstick that complements your entire face. If you normally wear flashy make-up or apply your make-up with a trowel, this is the time to visit a professional and learn a lighter, more mature touch.

7) Practice your expression – Don’t smile if you don’t feel like it. However, don’t scowl or try to look overly dramatic. A neutral expression or a small smile is fine so long as it doesn’t look plastered on. My own senior portrait has my most natural expression which is one of quiet daydreaming and I’m happier with it than with the version where the photographer demanded I smile (I have trouble faking emotion).

8) For the informal shots, bring clothes that are complimentary but comfortable – Informal shots can be done indoors or outdoors and will have a variety of backdrops, props, and settings. Bring something that goes well just about anywhere but that is comfortable enough for you to sit, squat, kneel, or stand in.

9) Get information on retakes – Some people will not be happy with their first set of senior photos. Be sure that you get the information for retakes in case you wind up needing it.

10) Parents, back off a bit. Students, listen to your parents – Senior photos are the last school photos you’ll be getting. By the time a child has become a senior in high school, they are generally old enough to have a fairly large say in what they’ll wear and how they’ll look. So, don’t force the issue too much, parents. That said, students, this is the last school photo you’ll be using. This will be the one that hangs on your parents’ wall. It’s up there with the photos from your wedding. Don’t use this as the photo to launch your full-out rebellion against parental authority. Trust me – you will regret doing that.

What other advice would you offer to seniors getting ready for their portraits? Let us know in the comments below!

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

The end has come to another week in the world of photography. This week has been an interesting one. Today, the Scots voted to remain part of the United Kingdom and photographers have been out capturing the story of both the Yes and No campaigns over there. Floods sweeping through India and Pakistan have also made headlines as monsoon season starts in earnest. Photokina 2014 was also a huge thing this week with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and more giving demos of their newest photography gear and reviewers getting a chance for their first hands-on with these upcoming cameras.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights for you below.


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Dave Engledow

Profiles in Photography: Dave Engledow

If you’ve been around the Internet long enough, you’ll have come across one of these hilarious images from the World’s Best Father, Dave Engledow. Though he has a degree in photojournalism, he considers himself to be an amateur photographer. His collection of images featuring him and his daughter Alice Bee are intended to poke fun at the stereotype of the clueless father while chronicling the girl’s life in a unique way.

Before anyone gets worried, almost all of the images are heavily edited in Photoshop and Engledow’s primary rule is that Alice never be at any real risk during a shoot. He frequently stages the photos using holders, harnesses, and other things that can be hidden by perspective or edited out on the computer. Though Engledow may not be the most perfect father in history, he’s got more than enough sense than to place his daughter (or himself) in deliberate danger even if the final photo makes it seem like they are (such as the Thanksgiving photo that has garnered a lot of hand-wringing and a follow-up photo). Alice Bee has even begun to suggest some photo ideas herself now so we can look forward not only to seeing her father’s wickedly twisted sense of humor but her own creativity in composition in the future.

Dave Engledow is a very patient and creative man who has come up with a very unique way to capture his daughter’s childhood. Unlike the traditional “family photos” or “childhood photos” that so many of us have, his collection of childhood photography really will be something that stands on its own and lets Alice remember some very fun times when she’s grown and having children of her own.

What do you think? Has this inspired you to try to add some spice to your own photography? Let us know in the comments below!

— da Bird


New Canon 7D DSLR Coming In November

New Canon 7D DSLR Coming In November

The latest news out of Canon is that there will be a new addition to their DSLR line-up: the Canon 7D Mark II coming out in November. As of this morning, here is what we know to expect from this new camera:

  • AF system with 65 cross-type points
  • 10 fps video shooting
  • An expanded ISO
  • Dual DIGIC 6 processors
  • 20.2MP APS-C sensor
  • 150,000-pixel RGB+IR 252-zone metering sensor
  • Built-in intervalometer and GPS

This camera will not come with built-in WiFi though there will be adapters and editions available that will have WiFi though the feature will not be standard. The current expected retail price for the November release is $1,800 (body-only) or $2,150 (EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM bundle). As pre-order information and a more detailed feature list come out, we will let you know more about this awesome new camera from Canon!

— da Bird