Sunday, October 16, 2016

Photographing Waterfalls with the iPhone

Here's a photograph of a beautiful Michigan waterfall
I snapped with my iPhone 6s plus.

The scene is pretty, but I want to create that silky water look I can get
with a longer shutter speed as I did here with my DSLR camera.

You cannot vary shutter speed long enough on a phone camera
to get this effect,
 but you can still get the silky look with 
an incredible app called Slow Shutter Cam for just $1.99.

I am obsessed with this  very simple-to-use app and have been traveling to
waterfalls all over my area just so I can play with it!

Instead of holding open the shutter, the app quickly takes a series of
photos and immediately melds them together.
Anything that is moving in the photo will blur.

It's SOOO amazing to watch this happen right in front of your eyes!

Try the app with any flowing water
including a creek like this near my home.

It's hard to believe all these photos were taken with my phone!

To use the Slow Shutter Cam app, you will need a
phone tripod.  You cannot possibly hold your phone steady
through 6 to 8 photos!

I LOVE this very inexpensive and tiny Octopus style tripod that allows me
to get down and close to the water.  

For this next photo,
I had the tripod on one of the rocks in the creek!
The legs bend to fit where you need it to stay.

For this larger waterfall, I simply placed it on the railing...

to photograph this magnificent waterfall:

You can also purchase larger phone tripods at any quality and price point.

I bought this one, but end up using the tiny octopus model more often.

My phone rivaled my Canon 5D Mark III in photographing waterfalls!

Get the app and photograph some wonderful autumn foliage along
with beautiful waterfalls!

Photographing Waterfalls

Autumn is a gorgeous time of year to photograph waterfalls
because of the colorful foliage.

I live in the beautiful state of Michigan which has more than
200 waterfalls...most of them in the upper peninsula.

I just got back from a waterfall photography tour in the upper peninsula starting
with Tahquamenon Falls near Paradise, Michigan.

What a spectacle!

I shot from above:

Then hiked down 196 steps...

To shoot from below.

This falls is a unique copper color caused by the
tannins that leach from cedar swamps in the area.

Next, I drove through spectacular fall color to Grand Marais,
a small city on the coast of Lake Superior...

Then hiked down more steps...

To Sable Falls!

If you photograph a waterfall with a quick shutter speed, you will
freeze the tumbling water for a look like this:

To create a feeling of movement in the's much prettier to blur 
the falling water to create a silky look like this:

To capture this flowing drama, you will need to use a tripod and a long shutter speed.

In the case of the photo above, I used a 25-second shutter! 

In darker conditions such as near nightfall, or on an extremely cloudy day or
close to day break, you can capture a long shutter. 

But on a sunny or even overcast day, you know that a shutter open for 25 LONG seconds
is going to totally blow out the photo.

So, I purchased this neutral density filter for my Canon f24-105 lens.

Look on the inside of your lens cap to see what size
filter you will need for the lens you want to use.
Mine was a 77mm.

I bought a variable neutral density filter that allows
you to change the amount of light that enters your camera
 by simply dialing the filter.

I set my camera to the Shutter priority mode (TV on a Canon. S on a Nikon)

I set my ISO at 100 and allowed the camera to choose the aperture.

The longer the shutter is open, the creamier the effect on the moving water,
so I started by setting my shutter at 20-seconds.

With your neutral density filter on the lightest setting, compose
your shot and get a focus.  Set the focus to manual on your lens so it won't
change when you click the shutter.

Use a remote starter or set your camera for a 2-second delay
to avoid camera shake.

Next, dial your filter to the darkest setting and do a test shot.

You will have to test various settings on the filter and
maybe change your shutter speed to get the
perfect exposure for your light conditions.
  I was so frustrated because I kept forgetting to dial
the filter back to dark after focusing!

But the results are stunning!

Many photographers flock to Michigan waterfalls in autumn,
so I had to wait my turn.  I loved meeting others
who are passionate about photographing such beauty!

Next stop...Miner's Falls which was a half hour hike
through these gorgeous woods.

This waterfall was tall and mighty surrounded by majestic pines!

I love that silky water look!

Finally, we hiked through another gorgeous woods...

up and down more stairs...

to Munising Falls:

I have been wanting to do this trip for years, and
now I can finally cross it off my bucket list.

Plan ahead if you want to photograph a waterfall
and you will LOVE the results!

Watch my video tutorial to learn how to change the color
of fall leaves!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Developing your own Photography Style

If you have been following my blog and newsletter for awhile,
you probably recognize the above photo as MINE.

I love light, airy and colorful with beautiful skin tones!
That is MY STYLE!

But when I started photography back in 2009, I read about developing
a style yet had no idea how to actually do it!

In 2010, my fascination with portraits emerged.
My grown daughter became my forced model because
I MADE her model for me...all the time!

The poor girl...I even made her wear all kinds of what she
considered "uncool" outfits and hats
even though she hates hats.

I really struggled with skin tones!
Through lots of trial-and-error plus practice, practice, experimenting, and more practice,
I finally figured out how to capture the beautiful skin tones in-camera.

I share my secret in this blog post.

Taking the photograph is the most important part of the process
in creating a beautiful portrait!
You MUST capture a good exposure with your camera.

If you scroll through my blog posts from last summer (2015), you will

Learning these basics is essential, but more creativity
comes with composition!

My personal style is to create movement in the photo
which you can learn about in this blog post

But every person has an innate creativity for composition
that is pleasing to them.  Go with this gut feeling.
If you prefer a darker, moodier look with shadows on
the face...go for it!

One of my photo friends Lucy thinks I edit too light.  I am constantly
trying to get the photo lighter.  I think she edits too dark, but she loves it darker.

And, that brings me to the MAGIC ingredient for developing
your own photographic style:

Do what YOU love!

That may seem too simple, but it's that simple!
If you always follow your inner vision and go with
what YOU like, your own style will emerge.

This is especially true with editing your photos.
It takes time and dedication to learn how to edit.
Along the way, you will be enticed by the explosion of
editing add-ons and enhancements.

I did a ton of reading and followed endless video tutorials to learn how to edit.

That's why I wanted to share editing techniques with video tutorials
 on my own Youtube Channel.

I tried dark and moody:

I experimented with black backgrounds in my studio then jazzed them up in Photoshop
with actions and overlays:

Dark and mysterious:

(Ugh!  I'm cringing at these now! Way too much RED in this next photo.)

I tried light and washed-out:

Plus, black and white:

Then I tried the texture craze:

And, lots of actions.  

While editing and learning all the new exciting techniques that
were just emerging for digital post processing,
I found that some just didn't look good to me like the Matte look craze.

I prefer a very clean, clear look to my portraits and kept editing
until I figured out how to achieve that.

The KEY to creating your own editing style:

Edit until YOU love it!!!!

It doesn't matter what the latest craze happens to be.
If you like it...that's great!
If you hate it...that's great!

It only matters what YOU LOVE!

As I was writing this blog post, when I saw the 
early photo I took of Lindsay, I did not like
the overall beige tone created by the action.
So, I re-edited to my evolved personal style of today.

You may prefer the original, but it's always what the
photographer LOVES and thus creates their STYLE!

I love my style now and rarely venture beyond it 
because it is beautiful to ME!

Let go of trying to follow the latest trend
or copying someone else.
You can be inspired by other photographers and  
you can grow from learning new editing techniques,
but if it doesn't look gorgeous to YOU,
move on and find something that does!

When you are pleasing only yourself, you will
develop a fabulous personal style that is uniquely YOU!

Thanks to my daughter Lindsay for always posing for me!
Love you forever...