Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Travel portraits: family, friends, and interesting subjects

In front of Old Christ Church, Philadelphia, PAWhen traveling with friends and family, most travelers eventually want to get a nice travel portrait or two. Travelers often try to capture interesting portraits of a local inhabitants.

Sometimes the friend/family exposure is dictated by where and when you're there. Sometimes the “choice” of background and light is made, in part, to keep a famous background in the photo, to say, “We were there.”

Sometimes you can choose the time of day your photographing, the background, and the way your traveling companions are facing, thereby control how light illuminates your subjects but more often, locations and schedules dictate exposure details.

The place and time for portraits of local inhabitants is rarely in the traveler's control, but the photographer can often control their position to help set up the portrait.

US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit grants injunction against 1994 Illinois eavesdropping law

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PAIn 1994 the Illinois legislature amended their eavesdropping statute so that it applies to “any oral communication between two or more people regardless of whether one or more of the parties intended their communication to be of a private nature under circumstances justifying that expectation.” (Ill. Pub. Act 88-677 (1994) (codified at 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/14-1(d)))

The law was intended to circumvent an Illinois State Supreme Court decision (People v. Herrington, 645 N.E. 2d 957 (1994) which held that “there can be no expectation of privacy by the declarant where the individual recording the conversation is a party to that conversation.”

Since then, the ACLU in their suit, “American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois v. Anita Alvarez has been seeking to have the scope of the law narrowed.

The ACLU had intended to implement a “program of promoting police accountability by openly making audio and audio/visual recordings of police officers without their consent when: “(1) the officers are performing their public duties; (2) the officers are in public places; (3) the officers are speaking at a volume audible to the unassisted human ear; and (4) the manner of recording is otherwise lawful.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Snapshots versus Photographs — Taking versus Making Images

The Great Sphinx of Giza in the foreground with the Pyramid of Khafre in the background at the Giza Necropololis. Note the prominent display of casing stones at the apex of the Pyramid of Khafre.Periodically I receive emails from travelers who compare travel photographs made by me and other professionals, with their own, taken in the exact same place, why theirs look so different from the professional shots.

They typically send me an example of their photography, although, invariably I already know why there's a difference. It's not that they don't have the technical ability or knowledge to shoot wonderful photographs. It's ordinarily their approach, their conception of their photographs and the process to make them. Simply put, it's the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.

When I'm out touring I don't merely “point and shoot.” I look for specific composition possibilities to show off the natural beauty, the architecture, history, landmarks, the general location, the culture of the location, etc., before me.

I take time to get away from the viewfinder to see and experience where I am, rather than immediately point and shoot at each scene or landmark I see. If your trip is always revealed from the narrow viewpoint of your camera's viewfinder or monitor, you'll miss far too much of the travel experience. You'll miss the fun of travel, much of the interaction with what surrounds you, and you'll miss the best photographs too.

Smartphone Apps for Photography: PhotoCalc

PhotoCalc LogoOften, today's SLR/DSLR lenses don't have Depth of Field (DOF) markings, so you can't directly tell, in advance, what will be in and out of focus in your photograph.

When you're using manual exposure, are you experienced enough, and is your memory good enough to know what your exposure reciprocation table will tell you when you want to adjust your aperture and shutter speed to produce specific effects?

Have you been leery of using your flash in manual mode to obtain precise results because your flash exposure calculations are too difficult?

Have you had a difficult time determining sunrise and sunset information for the area in which you're traveling so you can plan those marvelous “golden hour” photos?