After the Sprinkler: The Story Behind the Photo

By Janet Cunningham

After the Sprinkler, photograph by Janet Cunningham

After the Sprinkler by Janet Cunningham

After the sprinkler went off one morning, I noticed beautiful water droplets on my neighbor’s Gerber daisies. I wanted an unusual perspective, so I got down even with one of the flowers so I could capture the droplets sitting on top of the petals. Surprise…there was a flower behind the one I was photographing, and it was being reflected in the droplets!

I used a Sigma 105mm macro lens on a Canon 70D. Macro lenses have a shallow depth of field, so I took nine images focusing on nine different droplets, then combined the images in Photoshop.

To shoot these images I used a tripod, a cable release, and manual focus on the lens.

There are many tutorials on how to combine the images using the focus-stacking procedure. I found a Phlearn video helpful: “How To Do Focus Stacking in Photoshop.”

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Hunting Season: 6 Ideas for Your Next Photo Shoot

This time of year, some people are grabbing their guns and heading out to shoot. For photographers, this is a great time to put the camera down and hunt for things to shoot next.

Go online
Okay, this is probably everyone’s first instinct. You could start with a search for “great places to photograph in Fort Worth.” Or, if you have something in mind, you could get more specific: “Flower gardens in Bedford” or “junkyards in DFW Metroplex.” Adding quote marks around your search phrase will often give you more-focused results.

Photograph of the street view of the Alamo from Google Maps.Use this little yellow guy
Google Maps has what may be the most well-traveled location scout on the planet. And his services are free. Next time you’re on Google Maps, pull that little yellow dude icon onto whatever street you may be looking at. It’s the fastest way to see if a location is worth a personal visit. See the Alamo image above.

Peruse helpful sites
A few sites exist for the sole purpose of helping photographers find stuff to shoot in their area. ShotHotSpot.com allows you to search an area and see the types of images others have captured at various locations. This is a little hit or miss, but it can give you leads and ideas. Searching locations via FlickrInstagram, and Google Earth can also be enlightening.

Get the apps
Many apps can help you learn more about an area you plan to visit. For example, The Photographer’s Ephemeris comes highly rated. At $8.99, it’s also highly priced, but it shows topography, angles of the sun and moon, weather, and more. Mapillary is another
option for finding street-level imagery around the world.

Photo of buck by Casey Horner from Unsplash.com

Photo by Casey Horner from Unsplash.com

Take the road less traveled
Next time you’re headed home, take the long way. Who knows what exciting things you’ll find to shoot? And if you get lost, you can always use your phone to find your way back.

Ask around
TAPC is filled with local photographers who have years of experience. Someone is bound to have been where you haven’t. “Where do you like to shoot?” is also a great icebreaker question for someone you haven’t met yet.

Closed: The Story Behind the Photo

By Darren Wiedman

Photo of Closed business sign in neon red

Closed by Darren Wiedman

For my 50th year of life, I attempted to take one photo every week and post it on a photo blog. The challenge proved too daunting to do every week, but I was determined to shoot
and post 50 images before my next birthday. By the end of the year, I was a bit behind.

This shot was taken the night before my 51st birthday. I had run out of daylight and still didn’t have that last image (or a tripod). Fortunately, the neon lights near my apartment
were bright enough to register on my DSLR. Since the signs themselves were a little boring, I tried playing with the zoom feature of my lens while the shutter was open. I even had to change the ISO and aperture to give myself more time to create the zoom effect.

I doubt this would win any awards, but I think it does make a statement about the frantic pace of the American work week. It’s a shot I never would’ve tried if my “Fifty Pics” goal had not been set.

Sometimes forcing yourself to shoot can lead to surprising results.

Camera Settings: f/22, 3 seconds, 100 ISO, 55-200mm lens

Shots in the Dark: 7 Tips for Night Photography

Photo of city at night with car lights

Photo by Joey Kyber on Unsplash

There is still some time to capture a great image for our upcoming “In the Still of the Night” competition. Seven tips to keep in mind when photographing at night.

1. Find a dark place

If you’re shooting the Milky Way or star trails, pick a date near or on the new moon, and find a dark area using sites like darksitefinder.com.

2. Keep a low ISO

Yes, that’s right. Unless your camera is really good, you’re going to pick up more and more noise the higher your ISO. Keep it low and increase your exposure time to compensate.

3. Don’t lose focus

Your camera will have a hard time seeing at night, so the auto focus feature may not work very well. When using manual focus, it may help to use live view and zoom in on your subject to set your focus. Or use the numbers printed on your lens to determine if your subject is in the ideal range.

4. Stabilize

Obviously, you’re going to need a tripod and a remote shutter release. You can also use
the timer on your camera. Set it for a two-second delay to give your camera time to settle before the shutter opens.

5. Destabilize

For long exposures, remember to turn off image stabilization on your camera, if it has it.
Cameras that don’t may have some type of vibration reduction on the lens. Turn it off.

6. Decent exposure

Use the histogram on the back of your camera to be sure your image is in an acceptable range. It’s better to have spikes on the left side (shadows) rather than the right (highlights). Shadow detail can be salvaged if you’re shooting in RAW (which you should). If highlights are blown out, there is no way to recover that detail in post. If you’re shooting a high-contrast scene, try bracketing to ensure you have everything properly exposed.

7. Things to bring

Remember to pack a flashlight. You may need it to see the camera settings, and you can use it to light paint your subject. Wear bug spray. And if you’re shooting solo, make sure somebody knows where you’re planning to go and when you’ll be back.

Silhouette of man looking at stars

Photo by Klemen Vrankar on Unsplash

 

Starry, Starry Night: The Story Behind the Photo

By Lana Macko

Photo of the Milky Way above a lake in Michigan

Starry, Starry Night by Lana Macko

For years I have wanted to shoot the Milky Way. But there are so many factors that have to line up in order to get that shot.

First of all, you have to be in a “dark sky” area. For us in Dallas/Fort Worth, that means driving at least a couple of hours.

Of course, the weather has to be good with a clear sky and no moon. So I was very excited while in Michigan to have all those things line up for me. An official dark sky area, no moon, and clear skies.

I contacted fellow TAPC member Bill Webb for advice, and I watched several videos. And naturally a couple of new apps needed to be purchased.

The only thing that made the conditions less than perfect was the fact that it was the same day as meteor showers, and other photographers and astronomers, and in fact, entire families were at the same spot.

For that reason, I waited until 1 a.m. to head to the park and walk through the dark with my red flashlight. Even then there was a crowd. So I got my shot, although I wish there had been better foreground interest. The fun really began back home as I started post processing.

That involved more videos, and I am still playing with my shots. Are we ever entirely satisfied with our shots? I know I’m not. And the interesting thing is that even though I can cross this off my bucket list, rather than quenching my desire for this type of photography, it actually awakened it. I can’t wait until I have the chance to try it again.

Camera settings: f/4, 25 seconds, 3200 ISO, 11-24mm lens

Open Season: 7 Ideas for Shooting Different Photographs

Closeup photo of insect by David Clode from Unsplash.com

Photo by David Clode from Unsplash.com

During the photo club’s “open” competitions, it may be tempting to look through past images and choose one of your best. It’s understandable — how else are you going to show off those shots from Prague or Bora Bora? However, it’s also possible to use this assignment to push yourself to do something new. But what? Maybe these ideas will inspire your best image yet.

1. Do something completely different

If you shoot landscapes, try street photography. If your images are usually straightforward, try going abstract. Crawl around your backyard with a macro lens. Fail hard. Fail often. Progress is ugly.

2. Give yourself an assignment

Pick a subject, and spend the month shooting only that. At the point you’ve exhausted all your options, you may break through to something truly unexpected and exceptional.

3. Change your perspective

Spend a day shooting from the hip, or the foot, or a ladder. Again, forcing yourself to stick with it may yield some surprising results.

4. Go somewhere new

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson once said, “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” Maybe it’s time for a local road trip.

5. Look on someone else’s paper

Go out to a site like 500px. See what others are shooting. Find something that inspires
you, and see if you can recreate it or give it your own personal spin.

6. Focus

Give yourself one thing to pay special attention to: triangles, reflections, bright spots… Whether you have your camera or not, spending a month looking for one thing will force your brain to see everything in a new way.

7. Buy, rent or borrow

Maybe it’s time for some new equipment. Try a fisheye lens, flash gels, a neutral density filter, or even a drone. Or start working with an interesting prop: a mirror, glass ball, or prism.

Angled perspective of building by Pauline Loroy

Photo by Pauline Loroy from Unsplash.com

Maroon Bells at Sunrise: The Story Behind the Photo

By Jay Gosdin

Photo of Maroon Bells near Aspen, CO., at sunrise by Jay Gosdin

Maroon Bells by Jay Gosdin

The Maroon Bells outside of Aspen, Colorado, is an iconic shot that I wanted to add to my portfolio. Many years ago, we visited with our young daughter, and I got a shot of her with the flowers and lake in the background. There were few people there.

In 2017, I wanted to visit this spot again during my favorite time of the year in Colorado.

My wife and I got up at 4 a.m. and thought we would beat the crowd. With my headlamp on, we walked the short way to the lake through the dark. To my surprise there were at least 75 to 100 photographers around the lake with their tripods and cameras ready for the magic shot! I squeezed in and protected my spot for the duration of the sunrise show. Using a two-stop graduated filter, I carefully made many shots of the perfect morning sunrise.

This was a one-time event for me since I don’t like crowds. I got the shot I wanted and won a ribbon in the club. And I will be displaying at the Bedford Library with my first metal print!