Sunday, October 30, 2016

Vintage Val Halloween

Time for our Autumn Vintage Val shoot and this year
Val thought of a Halloween theme.

  I decided to shoot in my own home because it's much easier,
but my kitchen has maroon wallpaper that does
not look vintage 1950s.

I created a pumpkin carving set on my kitchen table,
but as we began to shoot, I did NOT like the dark wall.

That's when my photo pal Lucy came up with the brilliant idea
to set up my white boards behind the scene and
add vintage wallpaper in Photoshop!

This is how it looked with the white boards.

I cloned out that seam between the two boards...

And added the pretty wallpaper!

It worked brilliantly and this fulfilled my vision for VINTAGE!
Thanks to Lucy who thought of the idea.  You can use the
same technique in many similar situations where you want to change a background.

We shot this at 6pm on a dark, cloudy evening.

We were actually in the middle of pop-up snow storm 
here in Michigan that left an inch of snow BEFORE Halloween!

I wanted a different angle for the finished pumpkins shots,
so we just moved the white boards in front of the window
to block the falling snow!

Val came up with the Halloween theme  because she bought
a poofy, 50s looking skirt to wear for a work Halloween party.

I found the cat mask on Ebay and our CAT theme was born.

While carving the pumpkins, I accidentally cut the tail off the
cat on both pumpkins and had to use toothpicks to save them! 

Lucy used a wand light to illuminate Val's beautiful eyes in the mask.

Such a cute skirt and looks very vintage with the crinoline underneath.

I had a grand time picking out vintage candy.
You don't see the Necco's I bought because I ate them 
before the shoot!

Now, for the cold part of the shoot.  It was still snowing
when we shot this! 

See the inch of snow on the bushes behind little Layla?

I hope you can use some of these tips
in one of your photo shoots!

Happy Halloween!

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!