The Best Thing You Can Do in 2014

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So often we obsess about taking the next great photo that we forget about some of the basics.  Its great to be constantly looking forward to implement new skills but today I’m going to advocate that you stop…and wonder what happens when that hard drive you’ve been using for the last 5 years develops the least little bit of wobble and computer parts crash into each other.  Of course hard drive failures aren’t going to injure anyone (at least I didn’t think they could) but imagine if you lost all your images and videos.  Don’t think that backing up your data is only for professionals, the blurry pictures that you take on your smartphone are capturing a moment in time that you’ll never get back.  Let’s dive into the exciting world of data backup…stay with me casual photogs…this isn’t a boring as you think.

I forget where I read this (I think it was from Leo Laporte’s TWIT network, http://www.twit.tv) but a simple backup philosophy involves the idea that a file does not exist unless it is stored in 3 places.

Let me explain.

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The September SuperSmashingGreat Upload!

Greetings, Hola and Bienvenue!

Its that time again for the mid month upload for the month of September.  I recently read some advice that all bloggers should not mention how busy you are.  We’re all busy so stop making excuses…except this time I’ve got a real doozy for you.  My second daughter was born on Sept 5 so needless to say its been a bit of a dust up at home for everyone and the 50mm f 1.4 Canon prime lens is back into heavy rotation for all those kid shots.  It really doesn’t hurt to hone your chops doing something else for a while and I’m the photographer-elect in my house (although my wife takes a fine picture without the 27 point bullet list that I have floating in my head for what I have to remember for a good photo!).
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This month’s upload has some variation from my usual work.  The style that I like is quite easy to see from previous blog posts; I don’t usually take shots with people or machines etc or of smaller ‘scapes (unless its a family photo!).  I like the large landscape photography shots and the larger the vista the better…but as I mentioned above, you need to depart from your usual style for a while (and leave it temporarily before you get bored) and you’ll come back to it with new perspectives.
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“On with the show this is it!” (as Bugs Bunny says…):
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1) Harvest
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My father-in-law is a career farmer and this shot is from their back yard in Port Albert as they worked their usual magic with the combine.  This shot uses depth of field to focus on the wheat which is going to meet its next stage of life.  You’ll notice that parts of this photograph are in focus/others are not which is only possible when you get into the manual modes of the camera.  I spend about 90% of my time in the Aperture priority mode (Av for Canon shooters) so I can set the aperture manually and the camera will calculate the shutter speed for me.  In this case, the aperture is set to f4 which is the lowest aperture or ‘wide open’ setting.  The odd thing that you’ll have to get used to is the lower the Aperture number, the more wide open the lens will be.  The closer you are to your focal point with the camera lens wide open, the more exaggerated the blur will be.  As a point of reference, the higher the aperture number, say f22, the more the field would have had a greater depth of field and the lens opening would physically be smaller (which is a really fancy way of saying more of the photo would be in focus).
The second part of this photograph that we can learn from is the ‘half press’ technique.  Half press of the shutter button will allow the camera to focus on a certain part of the picture and if you keep holding  down the ‘half press’, then you can recompose so that your focus is not always in the centre.  The only way to do this is to manually set the focus point (in this case the center focus point in the camera).
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 Inevitably, some people will have wanted everything in focus for this shot, especially the combine, but the only way to take your photography from snap shots to photographs is to tell a story and this story is about the crop that is about to be harvested.  Let me know what you think.
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I think Perez Hilton would be proud of my notes I made on this page!
A minor point to be made is that the leading lines don’t lead to the main subject (the wheat) but I think the leading lines still work so that your eye follows to the combine and back down the left side of the photo to see what the combine will do next (in this case the wheat that is in focus).
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Shot with a Canon 50D, 24-105 f4 IS lens, f4.0, 1/400s, handheld
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August SuperFabPhotofest Update

Good day everyone,

Its the middle of August so its time for some new images uploaded to the main site, www.finnerphotography.com for sale.  As usual, clicking on either Current Images for Sale or Photo Archive will provide different albums to browse.

We have 3 images that have been uploaded with 1 that has been featured on the blog.  Here are the current show dogs!  Cue the music (and the clowns…)!

1) Irish Coast – this photo was taken on a trip to Ireland pre-kids.  This was shot back in the day when I had a Canon Rebel XTi which goes to show that camera bodies <$1000 can take great images.  The lens was the 24-105 f4 L IS lens which is a beauty and my everyday workhorse.  Thankfully this lens has image stabilization since this body lacked Auto ISO and it was definitely taken during a very steep learning curve of learning how to shoot without auto modes.   Photogs will laugh when I tell you that the shot was taken at f11 (that’s fine) but at 1/6 of a second handheld…not exactly the fastest shutter speed for sharp photos but this one worked out due to the IS on the lens…who said that tech didn’t matter!?!  This image was converted using SilverEfex Pro 2 (Nik Effects software suite) and I especially like the grain that was added.

This photo is currently for sale in the Victoria Park Art Gallery in Kincardine in the 12×18 photo size (18×24 black frame/white mat).

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Exciting News!

We have exciting news to share with everyone.  Yesterday I received word from the Victoria Park Gallery in Kincardine that my work has been accepted into the gallery!  More details about the gallery can be found here.  The VPG is located on Queen Street in Kincardine here.  The VPG is a co-operative so anytime you drop by to browse and buy art, one of the artists will be there to answer any questions.  Very cool!  The gallery also has a monthly guest artist space so its worth it to drop by and check out each guest artist’s work.

Another great gallery to check out beside VPG is the Scougall Gallery.  John Scougall was a photographer from the 1880s to 1920s and his estate has some great work for sale at the gallery showing what life was like in Kincardine a long time ago.

For those of you curious where Kincardine, Ontario is, check out www.sunsets.com which is the tourism website.

Here are the current pieces that I have for sale at the gallery:

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Too much processing…or was it?

I guess they say that patience is a virtue, which I’m sure has been said a million times to beginner photogs, especially landscape photographers.  The greater part of the landscape canvas can’t be controlled and re-takes simply aren’t possible.  The flip side of this ‘con’ is that every sunset is different, especially if clouds are involved.  No clouds = boring compositions.  Forgive me if I’m repeating myself but clouds really make the difference.  There have been times at supper where I’ve looked out off of the front step only to retreat back inside knowing that I’m not missing out on much.  If you’re photographing anything, it will look better during the ‘golden light’ hours at sunrise or sunset but for the landscape photography that I’m interested in, I know I won’t come away with much I’m interested in unless there are clouds.

Last night doesn’t fall into the boring category though!  I’ve been waiting all summer for some interesting clouds and last night was a great night for shooting.

There was a storm brewing as we were driving across Kincardine around 7pm and even at that time there was some nice light (approx. an hour and half before sunset).  We raced home from an appointment and I grabbed my gear, threw on some bug spray (which was waaaaaay too little in my ankle area) and out the door I went.  I had my eye on a particularly marshy area that I hadn’t been to yet but I had driven past it every time on the way into town.  I had in mind that it would be a good outcropping of rocks for foreground but it turned out a lot better than I had thought.  You’ll see from the photos that hidden behind all the reeds was a low area that would be great for reflections.

If you’ve started to read all the available resources online, you’ll inevitably read about High Dynamic Range photography (or HDR) for short.  HDR includes blending 3 images (shot at different exposures) and blended to make a stronger looking image.  Why HDR?  Because a particularly contrasty scene (bright areas and dark areas) may not be able to be captured in one picture by the camera.  The camera can’t capture the same dynamic range that the human eye can.   Some hate HDR, some only shoot HDR photos.  I fall into the middle for using it – if it works and looks good, its worth it but I’m not going to sit at the computer for hours and tweak an image just to say I’m an ‘HDR specialist’.  Chances are if you can’t get it to look good in less than 5 minutes, you should move on.

Here is the final image I produced using Nik’s HDR Efex Pro.  This is using the in app processing with very little adjustments afterward in Aperture (which I use as my library manager).  I processed this after the shoot late at night and my final thought was that it was too much processing.  It didn’t look realistic so off to bed I went.

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A Landscape Photo Shoot Deconstructed

I’ve often admired some of the best photographers that have shared their technique for those that wish to learn the craft.  Chase Jarvis is a classic example of this approach.  He is not only an incredible photographer, he doesn’t hold back in trying to make you one as well.  This entry follows that philosophy and it shares with you how I created the photo included in my last blog post using a minimalist’s approach.  I had family in town who wanted to see one of the famed Lake Huron sunsets and I was only too happy to play tour guide.  My SLR made the trip too.  I admit to falling into the trap of needing all of my gear (a future post as well so stay tuned) but I decided to travel lightly and see what the evening had to offer.  No filters, no tripod, no shutter remote and only 1 lens.  Sounds like a photographer’s nightmare!

If you were to ask me for advice, Step 1 to get you out of snap shots and into creating photographs would be to include a foreground (right Trish!).  As we were walking along the beach these rocks presented themselves as the ideal opportunity to see what we could do with the camera.

Step 2 of creating good landscape photographs could be slower shutter speeds and see what cool effects you can create with the incoming waves.  I tried something reasonably risky for my 24-105mm lens and I set the camera down on the beach.  Not recommended for those that get queasy if their gear gets a scratch (or in this case the possibility of sand in the lens).  If I could get a mulligan, next time I would grab my GorillaPOD tripod which is easy to carry around if you want to travel lightly…it would have saved a few sand grains bouncing around in my focus ring! Continue reading

Finner Photography Blog Hits 1000 Views!

Hello everyone!

We’ve been online since February 25, 2012 blogging about photographing the Lake Huron shores.  Since February 25, 2012, we’ve written 12 posts with 4 posts being the monthly upload on the main site, www.finnerphotography.com for photo sales.  The goal of the main site is simple; upload the best photos and provide a simple way to navigate the select few that make the cut.  I just don’t want anyone to come to our site and get overwhelmed with options.  Simple is always best.

Since I’m pretty new to the fine details of the blogging software, I eventually stumbled upon the stats of the site when we were at about 800 or 900 page views.  Slowly but surely, the page views would trickle in and eventually we hit 1000 views late last week which is a cool landmark to hit, especially since the site has been marketed through Facebook and Twitter with a very small marketing budget (read zero!).

Even more cool than the 1000 page views is seeing where the views come from and I can say that Finner Photography has been viewed worldwide.  Here is the map of the breakdown: Continue reading

A New Location

I thought I’d check out a new area of Bruce Beach and wait out the sunset and see what I could find.  The photos have turned out better than I had hoped since I forgot the bottom plate of my tripod (that connects the camera…ugh).  I was able to setup my tripod and rest the camera on top of the flat mounting plate on the tripod and use a remote release… maybe its time for that check list I’ve often thought about using before I leave the house.  Usually something is conveniently sitting on my desk wishing it had made the trip.

Let’s have a look:

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June Landscape Photography Upload

Let’s take a closer look at the June ‘cream of the crop’ shall we?  Shooting lately has been non-existent…check out my previous blog to know why.  One landscape shooter that I follow is Mr. Dan Jurak (heavy on the Mr. since I don’t know him) and he is a landscape photographer and former fashion photographer from the Edmonton area that doesn’t stress when there are gaps in the shooting schedule.  He notes (and I agree completely) that taking a break can refill the batteries and give some more perspective on your personal projects.  You can check out Dan’s photography blog here.

We missed the May photo upload so I thought rather than post on the 15th of the month, we better get to it!

1) The Erie Belle Boiler – Boiler Beach Road, Kincardine

The Erie Belle was a steamship called upon to help out a schooner that had blown ashore after it overshot the Kincardine Harbour.  During its time trying to pull out the schooner, it blew up and the last remnant is the boiler from the steam ship.  The ice has moved the boiler to the beach over the years.  More information about Erie Belle found here.  The Erie Belle is a great restaurant in Kincardine, especially for fish and chips.

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Goderich and Kincardine Beach Photos, April 2012

Good afternoon all,

Just a quick post today and a few highlights from the last week of shooting.  I’ve been reading some good e-books lately from some of my favourite shooters and I’ll share the details in the next post as well as my latest order from B&H Photo.  Happy Easter!

1) Kincardine Beach – Stream Mouth

As usual, I took my camera gear down to a cool area on the beach that had quite a rocky patch (stone cobbles) that I thought would make for good foreground…none turned out the way I liked (didn’t like the composition, relatively boring sky etc) but I had this composition in mind when I first scouted the area.  The long leading lines work well with the vertical composition.  This is shot in HDR with HDR Efex Pro.  Shot with Canon 10-22 lens, ISO 100, f11, Manfrotto Tripod

2) Goderich Harbour – Tree Reflections

Most times I would give a beginner the advice that sunrise/sunset will give the best light for a photo.  Some days you get a bit lucky with really overcast/hazy skies.  This photo was taken in the middle of the day but the sky was so hazy that it worked well.  Single exposure, B&W processing in Silver Efex Pro 2. Shot with Canon 70-200 f4 IS L lens, f4, 1/2000s, ISO 100.

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