“What’s the best _________ for _________ ?” Can you fill in the blanks? Even if you stay well within the realm of photography you could rattle off an endless stream of possible answers. We’ve all heard them, we’ve all asked them: what’s the best lens, camera, focal length, aperture? For birds, flowers, fireworks, sports? I understand this sort of question gets asked so often, particularly by those who are in the early phase of their photographic evolution; it’s natural to look at all the impressive work around you and want to replicate what others have done. You figure if you can use the same gear or settings, you can achieve the same results. That’s a rather shortsighted way of looking at things but, again, I understand it because I’ve been there. To make matters worse, there are those who will happily dole out similarly shortsighted advice about “bests” simply because it’s what works for them, not because there is any objective, universal truth to it.
The seashore. The coastline. The oceanfront. No matter what term one prefers to use, the seas have long been a favorite subject for photographers. The sea, much like the cosmos, represents a mystery as most of us have little firsthand insight as to what goes on beneath the surface. The sea is also a locale marked by ever changing mood and drama; it is, thus, no wonder why photographers are so enraptured by the sea. Photographing seascapes is, of course, comparable to landscape and cityscape photography in its treatment of the subject, but it also shares similarities with event photography or street photography insofar as the need to be patient and observant so that you capture the perfect moment. The following tips will help you with that.
Cities are transformed by the cover of night; these labyrinthine centers of concrete, steel and glass seem to magically morph into mazes of colorful light once the sun sets. A photographer doesn’t need to live near mountains or canyons or prairies in order to have access to grand, imposing, natural subjects. Cities, with their bridges, skyscrapers, and highways, provide their own brand of topographical texture. While there are certainly no rules about what time of day you can photograph various city scenes, you might want to be mindful of the role that natural lighting — even just a bit of it — can play in the making of your images. If you are looking to maximize the impact of color and contrast in your cityscapes, consider the following.
I know not everyone shares this opinion but I think frogs are captivating creatures. As a kid, anytime someone asked me what my favorite animal was, I replied very self-assuredly that is was the frog. I’m not sure why this was, considering pigeons dominate New York City wildlife, not frogs. And whenever anyone used the words “frog” and “toad” interchangeably, I was quick to let them know that frogs are not toads and toads are not frogs! My obsession with frogs has diminished considerably, but I still find them quite photogenic — their big eyes, their astonishing variety of colors and skin textures; they are ornate amphibians. So, if frogs don’t make your skin crawl, you will definitely enjoy the following images.
The incredible assortment of buttons on your camera can be intimidating. We’re not talking about just pro level DSLRs, either; even entry level cameras really pack it in when it comes to button array. It can be overwhelming, especially for those just getting started in photography. How do you know, of all the features available on your camera, which ones you should learn first? While some might suggest it’s worth the effort to learn everything your camera is capable of, the more measured approach is to master the essentials first then move on to other features. The importance of being comfortable with your camera cannot be understated; mastering the following DSLR features will help you take control of your camera and, by extension, your creativity.
The night sky is a canvas of innumerable wonders; granted, some people look up at night and don’t have much interest in what they’re seeing, operating under the assumption that it’s the same ol’ thing as any other night. I suppose such an opinion can be pardoned, given that much of what happens in the night sky is subtle and often out of reach of the naked eye. But sometimes the skies do put on a pretty spectacular show: lunar eclipses, auroras, and meteor showers. Check out these amazing examples of shooting stars.
Okay, so it’s time to upgrade your gear. You’re quite sure it’s not just another case of G.A.S.; this time isn’t about trying to keep up with market trends. You really have outgrown your starter camera; you’re ditching all those variable aperture zoom lenses; you’ve taken up macro or wildlife photography. There are quite a few logically sound reasons why you might need to purchase new photography gear.
New cameras are great. Whether you’re a beginner about to purchase your first “serious” camera, or an enthusiast or pro looking to make a significant body upgrade, getting a new camera is exciting. Some people will put endless hours of research into their prospective camera, while others are pretty sure what they want from the moment a new camera is introduced to the market. And then you wait. And wait. You wait with bated breath, for what seems to be an eternity, for your friendly delivery person to leave you with the coveted brown box containing your expensive new toy. You unbox it all and, just like that, everything is right with the world. If, however, one of your life’s objectives is to continue to improve as a photographer, going through the above scenario too often can be detrimental to your development. I’ll explain.
One of the reasons people become consumed by their creative endeavors is due to an overwhelming desire to overcome a challenge. Any challenge worth confronting will, once defeated, yield an appreciable sense of personal satisfaction. But such challenges are also, to varying degrees, frustrating — you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but making it there is the hard part. Something that new photographers commonly struggle with (though this is hardly limited to just beginners) is translating the pictures they conjure in their mind’s eye to match the images that come out of their camera.
Anyone who has ever spent much time on the subway will understand that life underground is not drastically different from life above ground; almost anything that people will do at home, they will also do on the subway. This includes — but is by no means limited to — eating, sleeping, listening to music, arguing with family members, personal grooming/getting dressed. You get the idea. If you’re into photography, you may find the subway to be a paradise of sorts where, in spite of the confined space, life happens unabated.