Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Photographing fireworks on New Years in cold climates

July 4th fireworks in PhiladelphiaNew Years comes this Saturday, and with it, across much of the U.S. like across much of the globe, that means fireworks displays. In much of the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia, that also means cold weather.

Photographing fireworks takes planning and knowledge at anytime, but cold weather makes photographing fireworks even more challenging as we have to contend with both the cold which will sap the strength strength of your battery and can cause condensation to form on and in your camera and lens. Dressing for cold weather can also make it more difficult to handle your camera.

Here are my tips for photographing fireworks in cold weather.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Beware: a new study shows that tobacco smoke and vaping aerosols kill eye cells

A new study shows that smoking potentially damages the eyes more than anyone thought, as smoking can kill the eye's corneal cells.

Graphic: Anatomy of the Human EyeTobacco use has been scientifically linked as a cause of heart disease, stroke, chronic pulmonary disease and lung cancer. The data on smoking and those diseases is undeniable. The deadly health effects of tobacco have been well known since 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.

In addition to those diseases, smoking can impair human color vision acuity, an extremely serious problem for photographers and visual artists.

This past September, Scientific Reports, an online peer-reviewed journal published by Nature Portfolio, published a new study about smoking and vision. “Cigarette smoke extract and heated tobacco products promote ferritin cleavage and iron accumulation in human corneal epithelial cells,” by Wataru Otsu, PhD, DVM, et. al. from the Gifu Pharmaceutical University, Gifu, Japan. The study details the alarming problem that cigarette smoke and baked tobacco aerosols from vaping devices can kill the eye's corneal cells.

Even without this new information, for photographers and visual artists or for anyone who needs their eyes in top working order, we already knew that the effects of smoking on vision is frightening.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

If you're in the U.S., did you reset your clocks to standard time, but forgot to reset your camera's clock?

Clock in Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France

If your location in the U.S. changed from Daylight Time to Standard Time this past Sunday, you need to remember to change the clock in your cameras too. If you didn't remember, you can change it today.

To change your camera's clock to Standard Time, set it back one hour, or if it has a Daylight Time adjustment, turn it off.

On Sunday, November 7, 2021, most, but not all of the U.S. switched from Daylight Time to Standard Time. Some parts of the U.S., including Arizona, except for the Navajo Nation within the state, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands never switch to Daylight Time. They stick to Standard Time throughout the year.

The switch between Daylight and Standard time isn't universal among nations across the globe. More than 100 countries never change to Daylight Time and of the countries that make the switch, many do it on different dates than the U.S.

Travelers in Mexico are often confused by the back and forth disposition of the swap between Daylight and Standard time there. That's because Mexican border cities near the U.S. generally keep their clocks synchronized with the U.S. to reduce confusion, but if you travel further into Mexico, you quickly find that most of Mexico resets their clocks in April and October, not March and November, as is done in the U.S.

The time of day in the U.S. could become more disparate in the future.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Making great fall foliage images: surprising tips for success

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum impoundment pond in fall.

Too often when photographers think about fall foliage photographs, they're guilty of target fixation.

They're only thinking of photographing fall foliage colors in rolling hills, vast fields and grasslands, solely in rural areas or parks, in bright sunlight and blue skies. While no one can deny that fall foliage images in those areas and conditions can be magnificent, there are many other locations and conditions than can produce equally or even richer photographs of fall foliage.

As autumn leaves change color and slowly fall, photographers need to expand their vision to the wide variety of photographic opportunities that are available to them. Scenes that include ponds or lakes like my image above, that include reflections of the green red, yellow and orange colors in the water can greatly enhance the fall seasonal feeling we look to obtain in fall foliage photographs.

Other opportunities to create these images with their intense colors can be found in rain and morning mists and fog, in urban areas, town centers, small villages, farms and in both landscapes and close-ups. Fall foliage photographic opportunities are virtually everywhere we find deciduous trees, trees that shed their leaves annually.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

A guide for group wildlife walks and hikes to increase everyone's enjoyment

Adult Bald Eagle at the Conowingo DamWhile there are times that photographing wildlife is a solitary activity, personally I also love photographing wildlife on walks and hikes with friends, or on organized bird, butterfly, plant or wildflower walks or on a wildlife photowalk. They're all great ways of seeing wildlife in action in the natural world. They give me a chance to capture images and videos of living nature while in great company.

Much of the reason those “walks” appeal to me is they have a major social aspect. They give everyone on them a chance to be with old friends or maybe meet new friends. They give many of us a chance to help others improve their wildlife knowledge, viewing and identification skills, while learning from them too. For me, they are also opportunities to help others improve their photography both technically and artistically and perhaps have them help me grow in those ways too.

For the uninitiated, much of the lore about wildlife walks and hikes from years ago doesn't reflect what they're like and can be like today. They're no longer staid, silent hikes with everyone in safari khaki, or camouflage, outfitted with backpacks filled with birding and other ID books galore. While good walking or hiking shoes are still preferred, almost any kind of casual, personal clothing is more than acceptable.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

16 Easy ways to give your Independence Day fireworks photos pizzazz!

Whether using a Mirrorless camera, DSLR or Smartphone, you can make great fireworks photos, if you follow these easy to use suggestions.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, July 4th FireworksIn the U.S., Sunday is July 4, Independence Day. 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 in the U.S. this week, here are my fireworks' photography tips for digital cameras and smartphones.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

MoMA is startlingly trying to use your photos for free, forever!

Fotoclubismo Brazilian Modernist Photography, 1946-1964 MoMA ExhibitionThe Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City is soliciting photographers to join the MoMA Photo Club and submit photos to MoMA in honor of their new exhibition, Fotoclubismo Brazilian Modernist Photography, 1946–1964. To add to the exhibition, MoMA is challenging photographers to “get outside and get creative” and participate in their new photo club by submitting photos to it.

They explain that every month they'll have a new challenge for photographers to submit new photos to the club. In their image solicitation, MoMA states,

“Share your own Abstractions from Nature—take a closer look at the world around you. How can you photograph something familiar in nature from a new perspective? Try zooming in; make it hard to guess what it is you’re capturing. Notice textures, search for new shapes, and play with angles.”

They follow saying,

“We can’t wait to see what you make. Share your photos with us using #MoMAPhotoClub. Select photos will be featured on our social channels, the MoMA website, and on digital screens in select New York City subways.”

If it's enticing to you to have your images featured on MoMA social media sites, their website and other publicly available locations, you better continue reading on the MoMA Photo Club page, past the video. You don't want to miss their critical statement about MoMA's rights to your photos submitted to MoMA.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Beware: Some photo contests and campaigns are little more than rights grabs

Copyright Rights GraphicRecently, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW) conducted a “Photo Campaign” to solicit free photo submissions of wildlife for their photo library. They asked for images of New Jersey's “fish, wildlife, habitats, and the recreation associated with them.” They particularly noted that they were “committed to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusiveness, and encourage entries from people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.”

That sounded great to me as I read the announcement. Then the hammer fell, or rather it was smashed down hard.

Monday, March 15, 2021

When we changed to "daylight" time Sunday, I remembered to reset my camera's clock

Clock in Musee d'Orsay in Paris, FranceOn Sunday, March 14, 2021, 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.

Few of us are traveling internationally at this time due to the COVID pandemic, but when we do again, 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.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Nikon's repair policy clause permitting them to refuse to repair a lens is unethical

Nikkor 18-200mm lensLast week, Nikon announced the elimination of their international warranties for their interchangeable lenses and accessories. This includes both their F-mount and Z-mount lenses, plus all Speedlights, etc. In the future, Nikon will only provide local warranties specific to countries or regions of sale under their marketing system or by shipping destinations.

Nikon states that this change was necessitated due to regional and national laws and safety standards. They have found it impossible to craft an international warranty that is effective and falls in line with regulations and laws around the world. That's understandable.

For Nikon users with existing international warranties, the warranties will remain in force for the full term of their warranty. Nikon warns users with lenses and accessories with international warranties, however, that

“If any repairs are performed on that product in a country or region not covered by the warranty, the user is responsible for all repair fees, even if the warranty is still valid.”

That statement has always been true for Nikon lenses and accessories.

The new warranty policy changes are going into effect this month.