Better late then never… (short story - free photography ebook)

Trust me... I didn't mean for it to take this long. 

Huh? What? Back in June I had the opportunity to take over the walls at Espresso Joe's in Keyport NJ and here's a free ebook commemorating that photo exhibit. This is book is for people that couldn't make it to the show or maybe didn't even know I had a show or maybe it's just a chance for me to put together an ebook.

Whatever the reason, it's FREE! Enjoy.

(Right click on the book below to download and read in your PDF viewer of choice on your computer or mobile device.)

"Locals summer" and Photos from the Fosters Belmar Pro Am Surfing Competition.

I just recently heard the term "locals summer" -- It's where the shore locals get to enjoy the NJ beaches for free and partake in an amazing amount of great events without the "out-of-towners" (It's those "out-of-towners" that make the shore viable, like it or not).   

Back to "locals summer". I am blown away with the amount of things to do (and great photo ops) around NJ in September and October. This weekend kicked off with the Fosters Belmar Pro Am Surfing competition (see the photos below). On Sunday I made it to the Clearwater Festival in Long Branch (photos to follow). The purpose of this event is to raise awareness environmental issues, both local and global. Lots of vendors, speakers and great music. It also didn't hurt that we had great weekend weather. These were only two of a dozen events that happened this weekend. 

One of the reasons I stay on FB is to keep track of whats going on locally. If you happen to be in NJ check out the New Jersey Events page on Facebook. If you're not in NJ search and see if there are online local listings for "things to do".


Back to basics: Composition

To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. 
                                                                                     - Elliott Erwitt

What is composition? It’s the pleasing arrangement of elements within the picture. As the photographer you ask yourself "What are the points of interest in this shot?" and "Where am I intentionally placing them?"

Why composition? How you compose a photo is what sets you apart as a photographer. It's you expressing your vision, no matter what camera you use.

Remember these “rules” are guidelines and suggestions… 

Rule of Thirds

Imagine that your image is divided into nine equal parts, think if a tic-tac-toe grid. The rule of thirds says that you position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. In landscapes, place horizon either above or below but not through center. 


Our eyes are naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place lines in your photo, you can affect the way we view the image, pulling us into the picture. You want your views eyes to journey through the photo. There are many different types of lines - straight, diagonal, curvy horizontal, vertical, and converging. Think of roadways, paths, sidewalks, coast lines, rivers, power lines, train tracks. There are a lot of lines all around us.

Symmetry and Patterns

Symmetry and patterns are all around us. Emphasizing and highlighting patterns can make for very interesting shots. What’s even more interesting are photos that show patterns that are broken (asymmetrical).

An example of shooting a photo symmetrically would be placing the point of interest dead center of a photo where the left and right sides or the top and bottom of the photo look like mirror images of the other side. TIP: Not sure when you’re creating an image of how you want to compose it. Shoot the photo twice. Once symmetrically then again Asymmetrically. 


Think about where you will shoot it from. Don’t just shoot from eye level, consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away, or very close. Extreme view points can make for really interesting photos but don’t endanger yourself or anyone else when you're trying to get yourself to a good vantage point. 

Balancing Elements

Placing your main subject off-centre, as with the rule of thirds, creates a more interesting photo, but it can leave a void in the scene which can make it feel empty (that’s called empty space and that’s OK too). Try to balance the "weight" of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.


Our eyes and brain are excellent at distinguishing between different elements in a scene, the camera not so much. Camera’s have the tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin a great photo. This is usually easy to overcome at the time of shooting - look around for a plain and unobtrusive background and compose your shot so that it doesn't distract or detract from what you are shooting. Sometimes this requires you to move your subject, but usually it means you, the photographer have to move to make a more pleasing shot and shoot from an angle that eliminates any kind of background distractions. Also depth of field can help here too by blurring the background leaving your subject sharp in the image. 


Photography is a two-dimensional medium, it’s up to you to convey a sense of depth. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. 


The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focused image which draws your eye to the main point of interest.

Remember that these rules of composition aren’t set in stone. Instead, use them as guidelines for your own ideas. Feel free experiment. Play around with these rules, Have fun! 

Next time we will take a look at some more advanced photo composition.   


Shooting film, visiting the beach and a video.

While testing out a (new to me) Polaroid 215 Land Camera things don't go as planned...

Last week I took a ride out to the newly re-opened Sandy Hook, Gateway National Recreation Area here in New Jersey. LIke most of the NJ coast Sandy Hook took a battering during Hurricane Sandy. Sandy Hook has a number of beaches and coves but the area I like shooting at (and featured in this video) is the defunct U.S. Army post Fort Hancock at the north end of the park. 

Weather wise it was a great day and I've been chomping at the bit to try out my Polaroid 215 (which I talk about in some detail in the video) so off I went to the beach. 

Tech info: Video - iPhone 5 | Editing - FCP X

"Tabletop Lighted Photo Studio"

I'm currently working on an ongoing photo series simply called "The Camera Project". The idea behind this series is to make photographs of old (and some not so old cameras) and process them similarly to the way new products are photographed -- high gloss and all. You can see the project here on flickr.  

I have been asked a number of times what kind of studio/lighting set up I was using to photograph this series. What follows bellow is my reply which was originally posted to Google+. 

I purchased the "Tabletop Lighted Photo Studio" kit for $30 (don't pay more then that) and it came with the two fluorescent table lights and the light box / diffuser screen and a few different colored cloth backdrops. All of this folds back down into a carrying case that's compact.

What I changed -- I replaced the fluorescent bulbs because they were two different color temps. I don't think this was done on purpose, just the cheap bulbs included in the kit. I also added that work light that you can see at the top of the photo. The work light is hanging off an old tripod I have sitting on the table. I'm also using a piece of white poster board for the background. It's more reflective (then the included fabric backdrop) and has a little bit of texture to it.

Don't pay more then $30 for it (I've seen this kit listed as high as $75). Check eBay. I got mine from Yugster, but it's not available all the time.

 "Tabletop Lighted Photo Studio" 

"Tabletop Lighted Photo Studio"