Worth a Thousand Words: Issue #017


Worth a Thousand Words, Issue #017 — Get Moving!

September 21, 2011

Get Moving

Freelance photographer and writer, Barbara Bender, is back with another inspiring article. Are you stuck on getting perfectly sharp images? Obsessed with having a sturdy tripod to eliminate camera shake, or using fast shutter speeds to freeze your subject? What if you were to try something completely different? Barbara brings us an article on that encourages us to embrace camera and subject motion. She provides concrete advice and beautiful examples to illustrate her suggestions.

Barbara writes: "[…] What happens, though, if we deliberately induce camera movement or allow the parts of our subject that are in motion, to freely move? If we experiment with these digital photography techniques, we can create photographs which can be expressive, evocative and impressionistic in nature if we are willing to try something new, make mistakes and view such images from a different perspective. […]"


Creativity Exercise

Move it!

In light of Barbara’s great article on embracing camera and subject motion, I thought I’d give you an extra nudge to try some of these techniques. For this month’s exercise, try photographing inside your home. Set your camera on shutter priority, and experiment with longer shutter speeds. There’s no "right" speed here. Try everything from 1/4 second to 5 seconds, and see what works. Click the shutter and then move your camera while you are exposing. The result is going to be abstract, so you can point at anything. (Don’t point directly at a TV or lamp; it will be too bright.) You’ll start to see how the colors and shapes of the objects in the room impact the image, and you can adjust your camera position accordingly. Try horizontal or vertical panning, or zooming the lens during the exposure. Then for some really fun ones, try rotating the camera while you expose.

As you may know, I’m doing a 365 project right now, where I shoot (at least!) one photo a day. There are some days where it’s hard to keep the inspiration going! On those days, a little camera motion can go a long way. Here’s one I photographed in my living room one evening. My shutter speed was 5 seconds, aperture was f/6.3, and ISO was 100.

Something Every Photographer Needs to Know: Tip of the Month

After Dark

Don’t put your camera away when the sun goes down! My newest passion is for night photography. You may have seen some night photographs done with long exposure times where the stars leave trails in the sky as the Earth rotates during the exposure. I recently had a question from someone who wanted to know: What would be the maximum shutter speed to avoid star trails?

The formula to determine the longest exposure that will render your stars as points of light, and not lines, for 35mm cameras, is 600 / focal-length. For example, an 18mm lens on your DSLR means 600/18=33.3 seconds. (For medium format cameras, use 300/focal-length).

Get out of the city, away from the light pollution, and set up your camera on a tripod, and start experimenting! If you want to emphasize the stars, choose a night with no moon. Set your camera on "bulb" and time the exposure according to the formula above. You’ll probably need to shoot wide open and with a high ISO to get the exposure short enough.

Cool Link of the Month

The Photographers’ Ephemeris

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a really useful tool, available for your desktop, or iPod/iPad/iPhone, that helps you plan your outdoor shoot. It gives full details of how the sun and moon move across the land. Want to find the best time and place to shoot the sunset? This app will help you check the lay of the land so you choose a spot where no hills are blocking your view. Very cool! Thanks for the pointer, Pierre!

What’s New this Month at Ultimate Photo Tips

Interview with Nevada Wier

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing renowned travel photographer, Nevada Wier. Nevada travels extensively to the remote corners of the globe, photographing the landscapes and people, in particular the disappearing tribal cultures. She is a remarkable woman, and a remarkable photographer. She’s passionate and exudes positive energy, and is generous with her advice. I invite you to listen in on our chat in this informative podcast:

My Brand New eBook!

I’m excited to announce that I have just published a new eBook called "Story-Telling through Visual Design." Have you ever struggled to translate the way you feel when you view a scene into a final image that evokes those same feelings? It’s challenging to convert a complete sensory experience in 3D onto a flat image on the page. If you know a little bit about how our brains process visual information, then you can take advantage of that knowledge to create powerful images that you and your viewer will respond to. In this eBook, I share easy-to-implement tips that are based on the science of your brain. These tips will help you design your images deliberately in a way that gets your message across. Check out the eBook, and peek at the sample pages here:

Your Thoughts

In last month’s poll, I asked you what software, if any, you use to post-process your images. Adobe has definitely cornered the market! A full 48% of you are using Lightroom, and another 27% are using Photoshop. Those are my tools of choice, too!

Do you belong to a camera club? I’d like to find out how many of you are taking advantage of the resources of your local camera club. Camera clubs can be a great way to get out and meet fellow photo enthusiasts, and they usually offer a variety of activities like workshops and outings. Cast your vote in this month’s poll, and let me know! The poll is in the right-hand nav bar of the website:


Don’t Forget to Join Us on Facebook

Ultimate Photo Tips is on Facebook too. Follow us there to keep track of what’s new, find creative inspiration, network with fellow enthusiasts, and check out an occasional photo or two!


Photo Challenges

The topic of August’s photo challenge was "Elevating the Ordinary." The idea was to take a photograph of an everyday object in your world, and make it into something special by the way you photographed it. This challenge resulted in some wonderful and creative entries, and I had a tough time picking a winner. Sam Cox risked life and limb (well, camera and flash, anyway!) to bring us this fun and unusual image of his garden sprinkler. Check out his winning photo here:

The topic for September’s challenge is "It’s Hip to Be Square." There’s something appealing about the balance and symmetry of a square crop. Does every image work as a square, though? No. That’s what this month’s challenge is all about. Find those images that are improved and enhanced with a square format. Sometimes, symmetrical subjects can work well as squares, but asymmetry can work too, so experiment! Try different crops; you’ll know in your gut when it "feels right." That means you’ve achieved a visual balance. If that turns out to be a square, then submit it here:

Happy shooting from Ultimate Photo Tips!