Choose backlight for landscapes

Backlit landscapes, Hickory Run State Park, Carbon Co., NE PA, Mud Run, mountain stream ((c) Blair Seitz) Do you want your landscape photos to appear 3-D? Do you want the greens of your grasslands to be richer?

The way to go is to scrap the conventional “from over the shoulder” lighting and find landscapes which have the sunlight coming from behind the vista. (more…)

New cameras with 100 choices

Digital camera modes and optionsI have just updated my Sony alpha 9 to alpha 65. The alpha 65 is not the top of the line. The body is $500 as compared to $2800 for the mirrorless RX1R. Nonetheless, this upgrade has a staggering number of new possible settings and is 24MP compared to 12MP on the alpha 9.

Does anyone remember the days only 15-20 years ago when a new camera had six setting options: aperture, speed, program or manual priorities, the ISO and a + or – for adjusting the exposure for backlighting or to achieve high key or darker photographs? (more…)

Aerial photography technique

Making Photographs from fixed wing planeConventional wisdom would require that a pro photographer would use a gyroscope to stabilize the camera for aerial photography. However, I have made photographs from Cessna aircraft over the last several decades without a gyroscope. I am now exhibiting forty of the most graphic of these with enlargements up to six foot murals. Geisinger Hospital, Danville, Pennsylvania, has enlarged eight of my aerial photographs to twelve foot murals with stunning results. (more…)

Outstanding close-up photography

Costa Rican butterfly garden
Our aim is to make close-up photos so that the subjects are not confused with a busy background.  We want the floral, butterfly or bird to stand out from the background. The delineation from the background will help make the photograph artistically pleasing.  For our purposes, the science of the flower’s stem and leaves, for example, are not as important as the visual impact of the photograph. (more…)

Keep your copyrights

Black and White International PhotographyWhen a photographer clicks the shutter to make a picture, the image is already owned by the creator behind the camera. The copyright is yours and to lose it you need to sign it away. If a copyright owner wants to be sure to receive damages if the copyright is infringed, the copyright needs to be registered with the US copyright office. But registration is not required to own the copyright. That is automatic with the push of the shutter button.

There is the exception called “work for hire” which occurs when the photographer is in the employ of an entity such as a newspaper. Even then the photographer should make sure there is a mutual understanding that pictures would be available for his or her exhibits or books. (more…)

Tips for photographing night parades

Night photography, Antique fire engine in Cape May Christmas parade decorated with holiday lights (Blair Seitz)I have a simple though effective means of photographing night parades and low-light indoor events, which are both represented in this holiday gallery.

Both combine the use of flash (preferably a flash you can hold off camera though also with on-camera and in-camera flash.  For the photos in this holiday party celebration I used an off-camera Sony flash and for the Christmas parade pictures I used the flash built-into my camera. (more…)

Tips for photographing your children or grandchildren

The first advice I give to persons who want to improve their pictures of their children or grandchildren is: find the flash control and turn it off. Flash gives you a very flat picture and destroys interesting light patterns as well as rendering the background too dark. Natural light will make a much more interesting photograph. It will appear true and real as the actual situation.

However, be aware that making the picture without flash requires that you hold the camera absolutely still. You achieve this by tucking your arms against you body as you are making the photo. Also, you will need to make multiple exposures (click the shutter several times for the same scene). If you are indoors with minimal light some of the exposures may show blurred action (because the flash is not stopping the movement). If you have several exposures you will find one that is sharp. Keep that one and delete the others. These actions do not come naturally so you will need to practice them before you are with the children. (more…)

Americana on July 4th

July 4th is a great time to make candid photographs of people because the community is usually preoccupied with enjoying food, the company of friends and relaxation while waiting for the big event—the fireworks. I revel in walking among groups and making photos of odd arrangements, unusual expressions, clothing or activity. In a 25-minute walk I made the photos included here, getting at least 20 persons in each so that there I would not need model releases to display the photos (see your lawyer, but I figure a group of 20 is the threshold for requiring model releases).

I made a few photos of couples or individuals but I am not including them here because I do not have a model release for them. I do include a photo of my wife, Judy Ballinger.


How do I photograph the Amish?

Amish girl at auction in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania

Photographing the Amish in America is as close as I can get to reliving making pictures of another culture in Asia or Africa.  This series of pictures are made at an Amish quilt auction held to raise money to continue the restoration of the Nicholas  Stoltzfus Homestead in Wyomissing, PA.  I enjoyed the simplicity and high energy of the event for two hours on a Saturday morning.

The most frequently-asked question about my Amish photographs (I have three books of Amish pictures) is: “Do the Amish object to your taking their pictures?” Here is my answer: Many of the close-up photos in my books are of Church Amish who have similar dress to Old Order Amish but do not object to photos.