How I Continue Learning Photography

I believe education is one of the most important assets we have.  Perhaps why I work in higher education.  But I think it is important to have a laser focus when it comes to your education.  I spent 4 years as an undergraduate that lacked focus and it’s still impacting me today.  Certain areas don’t need formal education styles to learn.  I think photography is a prime example of that.  In formal photography education they teach you about the history, the foundation (this is important), photo journalism, and fine art photography.  Well hate to be that guy but very few people make money in photo journalism and fine art photography these days.

So I set out to build a business from my photography as many people do.  It can be intimidating to build a business, know what insurance is right for you, LLC, finding clients, marketing all of that.  But there are thousands of people that have gone through those experiences and have been kind enough to share them so we can avoid some of those paint points.

Here are my learning resources and why I use them.

Lynda.com 
This is an amazing resource for all types of things.  Many employers even offer the subscription to their employees for free.  If yours doesn’t you can get a free month then decide if you want to pay $20 or $30 a month after that.  They’ve got an app for all mobile platforms include Apple TV and one of my favorite parts is they allow you to speed up the videos up to 2x so I can take more content in faster.

Six Figure Photography Podcast
Ben Hartley from Style Story Creative launched an extremely successful podcast and hosts different photographers, lawyers, accountants, and more all around how to improve not just your technical knowledge but more importantly the business side of photography.  After discovering him I binged 40 hours worth of his podcasts in just two weeks and I’m learning so much from his catalogue.  Listening to podcasts is such a simple way to absorb information on the go.  I don’t think I’ve opened Spotify in weeks because of them.

Improve Photography
Jim Harmer and his crew have developed a fantastic website and a wonderful “Master Photography Podcast“. The diverse group is always bringing guests onto the podcast to help develop new ideas and content.  Improve Photography’s website offers a TON of great free content as well as premium content containing Lightroom presets, photography contracts, and more.  They also offer a free trial I highly recommend.  And if that’s not enough Jim built RGPS “Really Good Photo Spots” iOS app that allows you to find some great places to photograph while you’re traveling.  Also free.

Jared Polin FroKnowsPhoto
Jared is just part of a trio that delivers amazing content on the newest gear, photography news, and tutorials.  Jared’s got an energetic attitude that constantly keeps you interested.  He’s also fantastic at keeping up with his following on Instagram so go give him a follow.  He’s got a great studio here in Philadelphia know as the Fro Factory that you’ll see feature in much of his content.  I’ve learned more from him in 30 second segments than anything else.  He’s also worked to develop a great app called “Gear Vault” for iOS and Android that helps you keep track of your gear and even insure it.

So these are a few ways that I keep learning and keep teaching myself.  It’s also worth noting that I carry a camera with me almost everywhere all the time.  Sure a DSLR is k kinda bulky but I’ve learned you never know when you’re going to capture a great image plus it’s a great way to master the ins and outs of your gear.

If you have any great resources you use to keep up on your photography please leave them in the comments below!

Unique Way To Backup Your Photos On The Go

As photographers we are always looking to make sure that our most important (or our clients most important) photos are protected.

As I’ve been shooting weddings this summer the photos and video I’m capturing are arguably the most important images I can’t afford to lose. I’ll go into the fine details of my extremely repetitive backup system in a later blog but I wanted to share a unique idea you may already be able to take advantage of with little or no additional cost.

Your iPhone and iPad are maybe your most protected devices. With fingerprint scanners, Face ID scanners, find my iPhone, and iCloud backup your hardware and personal data is extremely secure.

With the latest version of Apple iOS raw files play very well.  Now I know what you’re thinking. “My iPhone tells me I’m constantly ‘out of storage’ and I need to remove things.”

To that I’d say upgrade your iCloud storage. Apple offers you just 5GB for free which modern day (May 2018) is a joke. For just $2.99 a month (about what you paid for your coffee this morning) I upgrade to 200GB and that is more than enough to back up my multiple devices and iPhone photos.  Now I take tens of thousands of photos and videos with my iPhone. Who doesn’t? But with this iCloud storage my 128Gb iPhone 7 has over 77GB of local storage ready to use!  77GB is thousands of RAW files that I can backup to my devices.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering how do I get my photos to my iPhone from my camera.  The best option that I’ve found is the Apple SD to lightning adapter don’t worry it’s only $29.  Do NOT skimp out on this adapter.  Amazon offers dozens of third party ones but I promise you they wont work well.

It’s not the fastest when uploading your photos to your iOS device but it works.  I would say if you’re dumping a 32GB or 64GB SD card full or raw files I would start it in your locked car (out of sight) or anywhere you’re confident the phone wont go for a walk.  I sometimes even throw it in my camera bag that hangs on my shoulder most of the day and let it upload there. (Keep in mind I still have a copy of those images on a 2nd CF card that is still in my camera).

Once these photos are on your iPhone or iPad they’re protected behind all the safeguards I mentioned earlier.  My suggestion once it’s copied to your iOS device is that you do NOT delete them from the card but remove the card and put it in another secure location until the shoot is over.

This solution is a great option for me that I frequently use for portrait sessions, weddings, real estate shoots, and so on.  It is very portable and adds very little gear into my already overpack camera bags.

I hope that you’ll consider using this simple and affordable method to make sure you NEVER have to explain to a client how you lost their images shortly after a shoot.  Please feel free to leave any comments and/or feedback down below.

Layering, Long Exposure, and Night Photography

With the weather finally getting nicer here in the North East I’m taking plenty of opportunities to get out and do some night photography.  Living here in Philadelphia traditional landscape opportunities are limited but cityscapes are in full force.

I’ve been working with some creative long exposures including star trails and the Milky Way.  I think it’s unique to see these types of things in a city atmosphere.

Here is a shot of the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, PA from Race Street Pier.

Canon 6D
Canon 16-35 2.8L

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Here are 8 different exposures.  Six of them make up the star trails and the other two represent the HDR of foreground and the bridge.

This photo is down on Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, PA.  The recently opened a roller rink with beer garden, mini golf, Ferris wheel, and more.

Canon 5D MKIII
Canon 24-70 2.8L II

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This image is composed of four exposures.  One main one and the 3 that make up the star trails.

This is not typically my style but as I’m learning new techniques of photography I’m willing to expand what are “typically” considered the ethical boundaries of traditional photography.  What do you think??

 

Is The Winter Drought Over?

Winter can be challenging for photographers in the Northeast.  Especially if it’s not your full time job.  As someone who works a 9-5 it’s very difficult to find inspiration to shoot.  Many photographers also struggle with inspiration when they don’t leave their city/town enough.

The golden hour is frequently spent at the office and you can only go out and shoot so many long exposure night shots.  And even when you do you’re freezing your ass off because it’s 15 degrees.

I shouldn’t complain too much.  Here are some of my favorite shots from this year’s slow season.  Many nights loosing the feeling in my fingers and toes but I’m happy with a few of them.

I know it’s only February but the sun is staying out later it’s warming up randomly thanks to decades of poisoning the ozone layer so it’s time to shoot.  But time is still limited.  I decided that I’ll start carrying my camera with me to work each day.  Working and living in the city constantly provides new opportunities to improve my street photography.

First things first I needed a new bag.  I prefer a messenger style bag to carry to work so I had Manfrotto send me out the Befree Messenger bag that would support both my work laptop/iPad and my camera and a few accessories.

Next I needed to make some efforts to get out of the city more.  Any photographer, hobbyist or professional will tell you, you need to step outside your city/town often.  It’s very easy to lack inspiration from your every day surroundings.  I find that even in a city this happens to me often.

Last weekend I took a trip out to my alma matter Rider University to catch up some old friends and watch a basketball game.  Of course I brought my camera with little or no expectations of obtaining any usable photo but for me it’s getting back in the hobbits of a hobbies photographer.

Next week I’m off to New York City for a week (work related) but I’ll be sure to have my camera with me in hopes of exploring some new opportunities to shoot a new city.  One I’m not particularly familiar with and not particularly fond of.

By the end of next week I really hope to have some photos up here in another blog post to talk about the experience as well as update more frequently on Instagram.

How To Not Let Facebook (Completely) Ruin Your Photos

Why must Facebook hate us all?  (especially small business)

Anyway if you’re like me you’re beyond frustrated with how much Facebook compresses and degrades the quality of the images we take.  This may be a good point to mention that if you’re just posting selfies using those horrible front facing cameras this post will not appeal to you.

But for the rest of us who take the time to compose and edit even our images shot with smartphones this is become infuriating.  I get it… over 500 million images are uploaded to Facebook every single day.  Perhaps they use some of that half of a trillion-dollar market cap to pay our buddy Jeff Bezos for some more server space.

Finally fed up I decided to do some quick testing here during my lunch.

I decided that I would compare the two main ways to post a photo to Facebook.

  1. Upload it directly to Facebook and watch the amazing image quality of my full frame dslr go to shit.
  2. Upload the same full resolution file to my website and link the image to my Facebook feed.

Here is what I learned:

When it comes to the preview image Facebook uses a MUCH higher resolution than the preview created when I like to my website.  Here is a screen shot test.

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 1.52.59 PM

The top image was the image directly loaded to Facebook and the bottom is linked from my website.  The easiest place to notice the difference in quality are the power lines in the top left hand corner of the photo.

Now here is the dilemma.  If you click to enlarge the image that was uploaded directly to Facebook it looks like it was taken with a Motorola Razr.  If you don’t know what that is google it.

When you click on the image linked from my webpage you get a beautiful super high-resolution jpg image which is how myself and tons of photographers would like to have them viewed. (plus it gives us a hit on our website)

So I thought to myself why can’t I have both.  So I uploaded the image to a post directly to Facebook but I also included the direct link to the image and it turned out like this.

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 1.54.42 PM

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 1.55.07 PM

Does this work?  Sure. But only if your viewer is really paying attention.  (News Flash:  None of them are). And what I mean by that is this.  If you click on that ugly URL at the top you’ll get the full resolution image you hoped that everyone would see.  BUT if you click the image itself you’re linked to the uploaded over-compressed image on Facebook that again.  Is absolute trash.

So forgive me if the title of this post was misleading but I need to start a dialogue on this in hopes that there is a better way to accomplish hosting high-resolution images on Facebook.

Let me google that for you.

And for all of your who made it this far…  Here is the high resolution image.  Enjoy.

Sunset Over Boat House Row

Canon Releases the EOS 6D Mark II

The long awaited Canon 6D Mark 2 is now available for preorder.

eos-6d-mark-ii-front-d

Here are the updated features that most will want to know:

Canon 6D

Canon 6D Mark 2

Sensor

20.2 MP Full Frame

26.2 MP Full Frame

Processor

DIGIC 5+

DIGIC 7

AF Points

11 Points

45 Points (All Cross)

IOS Range

100-26500

100-40000

Frames Per Second

4.5

6.5

Video Recording

1080p 30fps

1080p 60fps

Screen

Fixed Clear View Screen

Vari-Angle Clear View 2 Touch Screen

Card Slot(s)

Single SD

Single SD

Wireless/GPS

Wifi/GPS

Wifi/Bluetooth/NFC/GPS

Viewfinder Coverage

97%

98%

Shutter Speeds

1/4000 – 30 Sec

1/4000 – 30 Sec

I would say the big things people will miss the most are 4K, 100% viewfinder coverage, and dual card slots.  Easily put… these will almost always be saved for the 5D series.

This is the first Full Frame Camera that Canon is offering with a rotatable touch screen.

Missing 4K is going to be a solid pass for most video professionals but again I’m not surprised at all as they save this for the highest end professional cameras.

After using a 80D a few times I would say the touch screen is a great feature to have if only to check your focus but zooming in quickly.

eos-6d-mark-ii-back-lcd-d

They do allow exports of 4K time lapses which seems reasonable since the image quality of each photo is far higher than 4K to begin with.

They’ve also got an HDR video mode that I’d be interested to try but again without 4K, I do not think video professionals are going to take this very seriously.

Other than that I don’t think there is too much to talk about here.  The body is starting off at the very reasonable price of $1999 and is available for preorder at B&H.  They will start shipping in the end of July.

I will not be pre ordering it as I think it’s worth it to invest in a pre-owned 5D Mark 3 over this body.  Perhaps I’ll do a full comparison soon.

For more check out the videos Canon released today along with some sample images provided by Canon.


Canon 24-70 2.8 MkII

This is the most incredible lens I’ve ever used.

I’ve shot with dozens of lenses over the years but I was lucky enough to get my hands on one for a recent engagement shoot I did over the weekend and it blew me away.

It is the sharpest zoom lens I’ve ever seen.  It even keeps up with the sharpness of a lot of prime lenses.  I was using it primarily on a Canon 5D MKIII and here are some of the results.

 

Now I understand this is the most expensive lens of it it’s kind (mid-range zoom at 2.8) but it’s absolutely worth it.  You can pick it up now at B&H for just $1699.  This lens will be living on my body 99.9% of the time from here on out.

For this shoot I also brought my Canon 85 1.2L II, Canon 70-200 2.8L, and Sigma 35 1.4 and almost didn’t use them because I had such great light and the image quality of the 24-70 2.8L II, was just too amazing.

I’m shooting a band tonight in a very dimly lit venue so I’m excited to see how it performs.  Check back for more.

Memorial Day Weekend 2017. San Francisco, California.

After 20+ years of spending Memorial Day Weekend down the shores of New Jersey, Leann and I decided to head out west to the great city of San Francisco, California.

She’s been a number of times but not I.  Needless to say she knew some really sweet spots to check out.  I’m weird when it comes to visiting new cities.  I have no interest in seeing your typical tourist attractions.  In this case, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Lombard street, etc will not be focused on here.  I was way more interested in visiting bars mentioned by Bay Area artists than anything else.

We wasted no time landing and headed to the hostel we’d be staying at Music City Hotel. This place was bare bones but had some really great features.  It was plastered with high resolution images of famous Bay Area musicians and even had a rehearsal studio that was totally free to use.

From there we headed out to find the closest dive bar we could find.  Kozy Kar Bar did not disappoint.  With $3 PBR and some very interesting decor it felt very familiar to some too the Philadelphia dive bars we are used to.

Then my buddy Victor suggested we hit a bar called Soda Popinski’s. Another fantastic spot full of super friendly people who made us a part of their group as we spin the wheel determining what drinks were on deck.

The next morning we’d get up super early (who needs sleep?) and grab some grub at
Mr. Homes Bakehouse.  I really knew nothing about this place but based on the line that we luckily avoided it’s extremely popular.  Met even more great people waiting in line.  San Francisco is a very friendly city. 

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From there we ventured up through the financial district toward the ferry building.  Very similar to Reading Terminal Market the Ferry Building was full of vendors selling local food, drinks, coffee beans etc.  Leann got her Blue Bottle Coffee and we were off to explore some more.

We filtered in to the outdoor area of the Ferry Building and of course there were four gentlemen playing music in the market that caught my ear and eye right away. By the way just a rule of thumb.  If you take the time to listen to street music or if you’re like me and snap a photo or two you better be ready to tip them.

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From there the buzz from last night was starting to wear off.  I knew we weren’t far from AT&T Park where the Giants play so as we made our way over there we found a great little spot to refuel a bit.

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After a brief walk around the ballpark Leann had Timbuk2 as a must hit spot to pick up some new bags to ride with.  I’m not much of a shopper and was even able to resist the temptation of a new backpack or messenger back so I thought it was time to treat myself.  What better way than a stop at Southern Pacific Brewing.

As many of you know I’m not much of a beer snob but this place was absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t help but start drinking some local beers and shooting some photos.

It was at this. point we found it best to relieve ourself from the weight of our purchases and head back to the hotel for a bit.  After a quick drop-off we headed right back out to do some more shopping at the sports basement as Leann prepared for her triathlons.

It was at this point I first sold the Golden Gate Bridge.  Guess what?  It’s still there.

At this point I was starving and ready for a real meal.  We ventured over toward North Beach.  North Beach is a very Italian section of San Francisco full of simple pizza places to very nice Italian restaurants.  It was at this point we spared no expense.  North Beach Restaurant is where we landed and man was that food excellent.  Service was also top notch.

At this point we summed up day one.  I feel like we covered a ton of ground in just a single day but I was so stoked for day two.


Getting up early again we thought it best to grab some local grub at MyMy and head out exploring some more.  After a day and a half of walking these insane hills, I was starting to feel in my legs.

We headed down to the Fisherman’s Wharf with tons of shops, In and Out Burger, and kinda touristy things to do but we were pretty thirsty at this point which lead us to Beer 39 on Pier 39.  There wasn’t much special about the place other than the fact we were the first customer of the day.  No shame there.  We were anxious to hit some breweries but none of them really opened until 11am so this did just fine.

If at this point you’re noticing a trend of any kind you’d be absolutely correct.  We like to drink.  And why not? After killing some time here on local beers and flights we finally made our way to the breweries.  First stop 21st Amendment.

This place was fantastic.  We timed it just right, leading up to a Giants game so there were tons of fans our pre-gaming with out.  Hell or High Watermelon in very popular in Philly but they server it with a big ass slice of watermelon.  A nice touch. After having an excellent bar pie and some amazing brews with even more fun people we headed on down the street to another local brewery.

Thirsty Bear Organic Brewery.  Should have just called it Thirsty Bust.  The place wasn’t very busy at all and the service was slow and not very good at recommending beers at all.  We didn’t even finish our beers before moving on.

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To Anchor Brewery.  A place we wanted to hit.  We actually stumbled upon this the first day we were near the ballpark but didn’t realize it.  Anchor was responsible for setting up an amazing outdoor spot right near the ballpark with great food, amazing beer, and outdoor games.  We quickly met some fun people who made us feel at home and really enjoyed the outdoor atmosphere of this spot during the game.

From here we headed off to meet some old friends at another bar and finally back to the hotel.

We were leaving extremely early the next day so I had the idea of basically staying up all night and sleeping most of the way home.  Not my greatest idea but there was one important stop I really wanted to make.  The Dalva Bar.

Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind has pointed out the Dalva Bar in a song that has always resonated with me so I thought it would be awesome to check the place out and really feel more in touch with the song.  Sure enough it did and our all nighter began!

We met up with some more friends whom I used to work with.  They took us around a bunch of bars in the area before ending back up at which bar?  You guessed it Kozy Kar.  Couldn’t think of a better bar to start and end the trip at.

With little or no sleep we made our way back to the SFO first thing in the morning and hopped on a plane back to Philly.  I’m very lucky that Leann was able to organize this trip in the way that she did.  We had a ton of great food and beer, made some fun new friends, and most importantly memories.

I love that city and can’t wait to get back.