Thursday, December 12, 2019

Photographing on railroad tracks can mean your death!

Strasburg Railroad, steam locomotive 89 manufactured by the Canadian Locomotive Company in 1910Last month, a 17 year-old teenager from Oregon was having his high school senior portrait made. He and the photographer decided it would be a great idea to shoot it along railroad tracks. It wasn't a great idea. The young man was struck and killed in the midst of the session, while on the tracks, by a Union Pacific train in Troutdale.

A Union Pacific spokesperson said, “Our thoughts are with the teen’s family and friends. We plead with parents, students and photographers to not take photos on or near the tracks.”

Earlier this month, the Shiawassee, Michigan County Sheriff's Department reported that a photographer photographing the legendary Pere Marquette 1225 steam engine, known as the “North Pole Express,” featured in the animated film The Polar Express, was almost killed. In the words of the Sheriff's office, people “don't always use good judgment when watching or photographing her along the way.” A photographer had part of her coat literally ripped off her by the passing engine as she was photographing it. Fortunately, unlike the Oregon teenager, she's still alive and hopefully a lot wiser.

Making photographs while on train tracks and in train yards is very dangerous.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Street Photography: Children — law, morals & ethics, commonsense

Nanny and children at Parc Georges Brassens, ParisHenri Cartier-Bresson was a 20th century French photographer. He is considered the father of photojournalism and perhaps the most important pioneer of street photography.

Cartier-Bresson was more than a street photographer. His images transcended the genre in a way that street photographers aspire, but rarely achieve. Cartier-Bresson was a humanist photographer. His photographs tell the stories of human endeavor, customs, social and economic class, human character and characteristics, behavior and distinctiveness. His photographs purposefully witness human nature.

Cartier-Bresson walked the streets of the world from the 1930s through the early 1970s, after which he retired to drawing and painting until his death in 2004.

There was little fear of public photographers while Cartier-Bresson walked the streets of the world with his 35mm Leica, unlike the last four decades which have seen increasing fear of public photography, rising almost to hysteria after 9/11. Today, street photographers, particularly those photographing children, must balance their desire to capture candid storytelling moments, with the potential of physical attacks, and social media witch hunts with the potential to destroy one's reputation and career.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Wildlife photography ethics: Doing what's right!

Muskox at Renodde, Scoresby Sund, GreenlandA few years ago, I was traveling in Greenland. We landed ashore at Renodde, off Scoresby Sund, a large fjord system on the east coast of Greenland. It's rugged terrain there. Renodde is known for its muskox. Muskox are Arctic hoofed mammals of the Bovidae family. They're large, with adults averaging 4–5 feet high (1.1–1.5 meters) and weighing about 330–880 pounds (150–400 kilos), yet around humans, they're timid.

I was in the first group from our small ship to take a zodiac to land on Renodde. We hiked inland and climbed up to the top of a ridge. We noted the wind in order to stay downwind of any muskox we might encounter below the ridge. We put our cameras on silent mode and told those with us to stay low and speak in whispers.

As we slowly edged our heads above the ridgeline we were greeted by a male muskox on the large plateau below us, less than 150 feet (46 meters) away. To have one that close is a major treat. It was part of a four muskox herd. The others were about 1,000 feet (0.3 kilometers) away. The topography of the ridge made photographing the muskox difficult. Using my experience, I carefully moved to a better shooting position, bringing two others with me to the cutout where we could still remain hidden. I was able to make about a dozen images when it happened.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Photographing July 4th fireworks with your camera or smartphone

Philadelphia Museum of Art, July 4th FireworksThursday is July 4, Independence Day, in the U.S. The nation's second president, John Adams, is in large part responsible for how it's celebrated. In his July 3, 1776 letter to Abigail, his wife, he said that the day should be celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

The Pennsylvania Evening Post stated that in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, “The evening closed with the ring of bells and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons and the city was beautifully illuminated.”

Fireworks are extremely bright and persist for a few seconds, typically against an almost black background. Focus and particularly the exposure settings for fireworks' photos aren't straight-forward. If you're traveling in the U.S. this week, here are my fireworks' photography tips for digital cameras and smartphones.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Nature Photography Day - June 15

Northern green frog in the impoundment pond at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at TinicumNext month, we'll be celebrating National Nature Photography Day.

It's occurs on June 15 every year. The original date and day was first created by the North American Nature Photography Association in 2006. It was created to “promote the enjoyment of nature photography and to explain how images are used to advance the cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes locally and worldwide.”

Celebrating National Nature Photography Day couldn't be easier. Pull out your camera or your smartphone, head outdoors and start making photos. Considering visiting a national, state or local park. Go to a national, state or local wildlife refuge. Enjoy at least one of these wonderful venues on this special day.
In the Greater Philadelphia Region? Join me on the 15th!
If you're in the Great Philadelphia Region, I've got another way for you to enjoy National Nature Photography Day. Join me at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge for my National Nature Photography Day Photowalk. The photowalk is free and open to the public. The walk will start at the Refuge's visitor center at 8am. The walk is over level terrain, but wear comfortable shoes. We'll finish by noon.

We'll be photographing summer birds and other animals, plus have landscape opportunities. Remember that it's not a zoo, so viewing wildlife can be unpredictable at times. There will be known areas where birds typically hang-out, but I'll hope for some surprises too. We'll walk along the Impoundment Pond loop, go to the edge of the freshwater tidal marsh in the Refuge and through other habitats there.

The Heinz Refuge is America's first urban refuge and is located near Philadelphia International Airport.

For up-to-date information about this photowalk follow me on the NSL Photography Facebook Page and on the NSL Photography Twitter Feed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Beware, selfies can be hazardous to your health

Grand Canyon National ParkSince March 26, three tourists visiting the Grand Canyon have died in the famous national park. The identities of two of the dead are unknown, as are the full circumstances of their deaths. We know that one fell to his death from the South Rim at Grand Canyon Village.

The third tourist who died was from Hong Kong. He tripped near the Grand Canyon's Skywalk while shooting a selfie at the edge of the rim and fell hundreds of feet to his death.

That death follows numerous, needless selfie deaths that occurred around the globe last year.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Using photography contest judging criteria to help photographers self-assess

Paris, Eiffel TowerMany photographers struggle to create an insightful set of principles to self-assess their work. Getting a critique from trusted photographers is an excellent idea, but without regular in-depth, honest image critiques of their own work, photographers will have a tough time improving and growing.

I offer for consideration, using the criteria photography contest judges use to assess images, as the basis for photographers to develop their own workable, rational approach to self-assessment.

When I began to ask colleagues for assistance, by having them critically assess my work, I found that they typically zeroed into the technical aspects of my images. While there is little doubt the quality of focus, bokeh, color, exposure, lighting, composition, etc. are important, I knew that there were other issues that should be included in any image critique. Over the years I developed my own assessment checklist.

Interestingly to me, many years later, when I began to be invited to be on photography contest juries, I found that my list and the contests' guidelines for judging entries were essentially the same. Therefore, for photographers serious about improving their craft today, rather than struggle to create their own checklist, I suggest using the criteria developed by photographers to judge work in photo contests across the globe.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Changed to "daylight" time Sunday? Don't forget to reset your camera's clock

Clock in Musee d'Orsay in Paris, FranceOn Sunday, March 10, 2019, most of the U.S. switched to Daylight time from Standard time. Not all of the U.S. makes the change. Arizona, except for the Navajo Nation, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands don't switch to Daylight time in the spring nor back to Standard time in the fall. Their clocks are always set to Standard time.

If you travel internationally, it's important to be aware that the Daylight/Standard time change doesn't universally occur across the globe. More than 100 countries never change to Daylight time and more than a few countries switch between the two on different dates than other countries.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The new lithium-ion battery ban on passenger aircraft as cargo

Nikon camera batteryLithium based batteries on commercial passenger aircraft have been regulated since 2008. That year, the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) banned spare lithium based batteries from passengers' checked luggage.

At the end of last month, the US DOT formalized what U.S. based commercial passenger air carriers already had been doing. They banned the “transport of lithium-ion cells or batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.” ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) had called for the ban since February, 2016.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Study concludes smoking can diminish photographers' color vision acuity

Color Acuity - RGB Color CircleThe deadly health effects of tobacco were made known in 1964, when Luther L. Terry, M.D., then Surgeon General of the U.S., released the first report of the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health. From that report and subsequent ones, we know that smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and a myriad of other serious diseases.

According to the CDC, the statistics about smokers contracting life threatening diseases compared to non-smokers are startling.
  • Smokers are more likely to contract coronary heart disease by 200%-400%.
  • Smokers are more likely to experience a stroke by 200%-400%.
  • Smokers are more likely to die from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) by 1,200%-1,300%.
  • Male smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer by 2,500%.
  • Female smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer by 2,570%.
Cigarette smoke is extremely toxic. It contains about 4,000 active compounds, including tar, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Eclipse Alert: Total lunar eclipse coming January 20/21, 2019

Super Blood Moon - Image courtesy of NASAOn Monday, January 21, 2019 from 0236 GMT until 0748 GMT there will be a total lunar eclipse. For those in the U.S., I'll translate. The lunar eclipse will run from Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 9:30pm EST until Monday, January 21, 2019 at 2:45am EST.

In North and South America, the entire eclipse will be visible from the penumbral, to partial, to full eclipse and back again. Other parts of the world will be able to see all or much of the lunar eclipse, though much of Asia and Oceania will miss it entirely.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019 - Change your camera's copyright notice!

Copyright? Happy New Year.

It's January 1st, time to reset the copyright notice in your camera to reflect the new year. Make sure your 2019 images have the correct information.

Most digital cameras today can automatically insert your copyright notice into the metadata of every image you make as they are stored. By the time you read this article, each of my cameras will have been reset so that they will insert the following copyright and use statement into every image I make with them:
“Copyright © 2019 NSL Photography. All Rights Reserved.”
If you haven't been inserting your copyright notice in your images to protect them, I suggest you consider beginning the practice today.