Night Shots on the Capital Lawn   Leave a comment

Everything in Texas is big, even the state capitol building in Austin.  It has been my pleasure the last few weeks to be working with some legislators on improving state processes to save the state money.  The days are long, but the nights are exciting if you want to do night shots.  The whole capital building is brightly lit up and perfect for night photography.  I took the challenge of creating some HDR (High Dynamic Range) images.  (Check my prior post for HDR techniques)   I also made it my goal to shot a few regular night shots working in existing lighting.  The beauty of digital photography is the instant results you get.  This allows you to make your corrections and try another shot.

There are two ways to shoot night shots.  First, take advantage of the new camera technology and adjust you ISO up to 2000 or higher.  Now with a steady hand and good camera techniques let you light meter lead you to proper exposure.  The second way is the more traditional  way by using a steady tripod.  Set your camera to lower ISO numbers, say 800 and down and take time exposures based on your meter.  Check your results and make your adjustments.

Always take your camera with you, even on business trips!   I hope you can have the fun I had one night on the capital lawn.

So that’s all for now.  Contact me, leave a comment.  I’d love to hear your photo stories.


Posted April 10, 2011 by danphotoman in Uncategorized

Just Another Friday Night in HDR   Leave a comment

Every other Friday night here in southwest Arlington, Texas in the parking lot of the local strip mall all the local “Car Guys and Gals” gather for Show n’ Tell.  The air is filled with sweet smells of BBQ.  The conversation is lively.  Folks are quick to show off  their toys to everyone who will give them time to talk.  The weather is a cool 70 degrees with a fresh wind from the south.  The work week is done and its time to play.  Time too for me to practice the hottest rage in photo circles; High Dynamic Range  (HDR) photography.  It is fairly easy to do if you have the right equipment.  Most DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras can do HDR if they be adjusted to shoot a RAW file.  “Raw designates a file format used by digital cameras. While taking pictures the camera writes all the sensor’s information one to one, no manipulations takes effect. Images are recorded in a proprietary format no regular imaging program can deal with. Like rough diamonds waiting for the shape giving grinding they still await interpretation and refinement. That’s why the term “raw” was chosen.” (quoted from  The beauty of HDR photography is the ability to combine the brightest and darkest parts of a scene that your camera would not be able to record in a single shot.  My understanding is that your eye sees about 22 shades (EVs) of light while a camera sees only about 11 shades (EVs).  So to make HDR work you have to take at least 3 shots (duplicate compositions) that are the same except for difference in exposure.  So a steady tripod is needed to capture the similar shots.

 I  combine my photos with Photomatix Pro 3.2.   Above you can see the photos combined to make the eye-popping final version.  The software gives you a lot of room for creativity to tweak the final version to your liking.  There are lots of photo books out on the subject of HDR.  One I recommend is “Practical HDR” by Dave Nightingale.   Barnes and Noble or Borders have a great photography section, as well as Amazon for those who want to become more knowledgeable on creating HDR photography.  So…with the days getting longer, pull yourself away from the TV and find some time to create.    Doing HDR photos at the local Car Meet is one way I found to enjoy another Friday night.  Thanks for reading….share some comments…lets start a conversation thread……….Later, Dan

Posted March 27, 2011 by danphotoman in Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

When in Rome-Don’t Miss the Night Lights   Leave a comment

On my recent trip to Rome this last summer I realized I really missed the opportunity to do more night photography.  My last trip was my second time to visit.  There is so much to see during the day and believe me you will walk your legs off.  So by the end of the day you are pooped and want to rest up to see everything the next day brings.  You find yourself overwhelmed by all there is to take in.  It is sensory overload.  I pinch myself daily because I can’t believe I am here experiencing this amazing place.   As I learned more about Rome I came to realize that Rome is just as amazing at night.  All the popular historic and religious sites are fully lit-up and perfect for night photography.   Safety is not an issue if you use your common sense and stay aware of your surroundings. 

Night photography is fairly simple.     First, realize that most modern digital cameras are able to take night photos especially if you have ready-made lighting like many of the sites in Rome.  If you have the ability on your camera to change ISO setting, move it to at least 1000 or 1250.  Second tip, trust your light meter to tell you if have enough light of if you need to increase your ISO.  I am guessing most less experienced shooters have the camera set in program mode so the camera does most of the “thinking”.  Don’t feel stupid here, we all start somewhere and the skill of photography is developed by taking lots of pictures and making adjustments.  Third tip, develop a steady hand.  Keep your elbows in.   Look through the view finder, compose your shot, and use the point where your face touches the camera as another place to steady your shot.  Last of all breathe in slowly, snap the shutter button and then breath out.  Evaluate the result.  The beauty of digital is your instant feedback.  Don’t like what you see, delete the shot and try again. 

Stay tuned for more photography tips and ideas to improve your skills.  Don’t forget to post your comments.  I will answer each of them.  Lets start a discussion!!

All for Now, Dan

Posted March 22, 2011 by danphotoman in Uncategorized

Expect the Unexpected and Tell A Story   1 comment

Clint Eastwood famous actor and director “Knows” story! He was quoted recently commenting on what makes his recent film “Hereafter” so special. Now you know that Clint is not one for many words, he said “Story’s EVERYTHING, Story’s The KING.” He keeps his film focused on telling a compelling story. He knows and every who seeks to use any kind of media should know that “story is the language of the heart.” If you want to truly connect with your audience and as photographers it’s those who view our work, we must always focus on drawing our viewers into the story we SEE unfolding before us. Anticipate…previsualize where you need to be, know what equipment (body and lens etc) you need to make ready…flow into the timing and synchronize with the scene. Unleash the magic of a well-timed, well composed photo. The right moment captured in time for all to see. Practice…get feedback…make the right adjustments…practice…do it again…aquire more experience…evaluate…and perfect your craft. Enjoy the rewards of a photo done right and viewers touched by your vision and storytelling…So….Stay in touch and share what you are doing,    Dan

Posted March 17, 2011 by danphotoman in Uncategorized

Photography is a Vision of the Mind   Leave a comment

Photography is a vision of the mind captured in time.    A good photographer seeks to capture visions in way to connect with the viewer’s stories being played out on the stage of life.   When that happens, memories are visualized, the stories of life are illustrated and often if the viewer is honest with themselves they find a mirror that is a reflection to the soul.  It’s Magic!  So…….pay attention!  Don’t miss those magic moments.

Posted March 15, 2011 by danphotoman in Uncategorized