Watch a Nat Geo Photographer Rescue Her Mom from Houston Floods
Want to see what it’s like to flee the devastating floods in Houston, Texas, caused by Hurricane Harvey? National Geographic conflict photographer Erin Trieb helped evacuate her mom this past weekend, and she documented the experience in the 5-minute video above.
Trieb is usually based in Istanbul, Turkey, but she was back home in Texas when the hurricane struck. On August 27th, 2017, she opened up the camera app on her smartphone and began recording her journey in helping her mom, retrieving her cameras, and checking up on her sister.
A post shared by Erin Trieb (@erintrieb) on Aug 27, 2017 at 6:49am PDT
The photographer and her mother had to wade through waist-deep waters just to leave the neighborhood, pulling three dogs behind them in trash cans.
“Trieb plans to continue photographing her family’s Houston neighbourhood to document how victims are coping with floods,” National Geographicwrites.
“While this is my third hurricane to photograph and second one in Houston, I have never before had to turn the camera on my own family, who has experienced substantial flood damage,” Trieb writes on Facebook. “A huge thanks to my mom and sister’s family, who are all safe, for allowing me to chronicle their personal experiences – all things considered, we’re very fortunate. Thoughts go out to all those in Houston currently battling this tremendous storm.”
Flight Attendant’s Photos Show Life in a Virgin America Crew
Molly Choma of Portland, Oregon, has spent nearly a decade working as a flight attendant on Virgin America planes. In addition to her work in the skies, Choma is also a talented photographer. Her series The Secret Life of Virgins is a look at life in Virgin America flight crews.
Choma was recently interviewed by Travel + Leisure about her work. She states that although she started shooting photos on the job a few years into her career, her work took on a new sense of urgency in recent years after Alaska Air agreed to buy Virgin America last year in a $4 billion deal.
Virgin America will no longer exist by 2019, and Choma has since been recruited by Virgin America to document the airline’s culture before it goes extinct.
“I just wanted to preserve it, not necessarily for the public, but for my friends and people like me who grew up with Virgin America,” Choma tells Travel + Leisure. “Whether that’s people who were there since the start or only for the past six months, I wanted something to immortalize what we have.”
The photos in The Secret Life of Virgins capture flight crew members when they’re out of the sight of passengers.
These Coasters Stack to Form a Canon 85mm f/1.2 Camera Lens
The photo gear brand FotodioX recently launched a new line of drink coasters. Called the LenzCoaster, each set of 5 coasters stacks to form a 85mm f/1.2L camera lens lookalike.
Hidden magnets inside the coasters hold them together in lens form when they’re not being used. On the top and bottom of each coaster is a pad of non-slip silicone to absorb moisture and also keep it from slipping on smooth surfaces.
There are three different sets you can choose from. In addition from black with black (shown above), there’s also black with red and white with black.
You can pick up a LenzCoaster set for yourself for $25 through retailers like B&H and Amazon.
This Photographer Used a McDonald’s Big Mac Box to Light Portraits
French photographer Philippe Echaroux recently decided to challenge himself in the area of shooting portraits of strangers. Instead of using high-end camera equipment, he decided to use an iPhone and light his subjects using a McDonald’s Big Mac box.
“I like to challenge myself,” Echaroux tells PetaPixel. His lighting rig consisted of a flashlight, a drinking straw, and a Big Mac box:
Here’s what it looks like when fully assembled and operational (for extra light reflection, Echaroux recommends rubbing oil from the fries onto the inside of the box):
Echaroux then took the makeshift light out and began photographing people:
Here are the portraits Echaroux managed to capture using this unusual setup:
How to Make a Realistic Shallow Depth of Field Using Photoshop
In this 20-minute tutorial by PiXimperfect, learn how to use Photoshop to create a realistic bokeh effect in your photo. Creating a shallow depth of field after you’ve taken the shot can be tricky to do convincingly, but this tutorial will show you one method for how to do it.
By harnessing the power of depth maps, you can tell Photoshop exactly how near or far different elements of the scene are to the camera.
Creating a selection of the subject is the first, and most important, part of the process. You can use any of your favorite selection techniques, but you need to be really careful to get it right as it’s a destructive action.
Once you’ve refined the edges of your selection, you can work on perfecting the mask which will act as your depth map. It’ll look something like this:
To make it realistic, you need to have the amount of blur in the image varying between those objects furthest away from the camera, and those nearest.
The technique lets you take a portrait like this…
…and turn it into this:
It’s a lengthy process, for sure, but it might be necessary if you’re trying to rescue a shot that you didn’t get quite right in camera. Check out the full tutorial above for proper instruction about how to achieve this.
How I Plan My Landscape Photos for the Highest Chances of Success
My name is Albert Dros, and I am a professional landscape photographer from the Netherlands. People often tell me that I am “in the right place at the right time.” But I obviously don’t post “failed” shoots. And not only that, I also spend a great deal of time planning my shots in order to make my chances of success as high as possible.
Some of you may be thinking: “What is this guy talking about? I just go out and shoot and see what I come up with”. Everyone is free to do whatever they want, of course, but I’d like to discuss how to help you find optimal conditions.
I use a bunch of tools for planning my shots. Here they are:
WeatherPro Smartphone App
When planning perfect conditions for your landscape shots, a lot of it depends on the weather. To accurately monitor the weather, I use the WeatherPro app. Keep in mind that the basic version predicts the weather every 4 hours. The Premium version predicts it for every hour and costs $9 per year. Knowing the weather every hour is important, especially during mornings and evenings as you want to see what kind of sunrise or sunset you will get. The WeatherPro app is often accurate in its predictions.
Here are some things to look for in the app:
Cloud Cover: If you want an epic burning sunset you will need clouds. It’s best to have a kind of thick cloud layer with a big opening on the horizon where the sun will come underneath to cast its light on the clouds during sunset.
Fog and Mist: The app often predicts fog and mist (which mostly happens during mornings). Also look for high humidity.
Wind Direction and Wind Speed: If I want to shoot at a lake or canals (in the Netherlands we have lots of canals) I want to see some reflections. It’s important for me to have a wind speed of lower than 20 km/h (~12.5mph) to get decent reflections with a long exposure shot. Wind direction is also important for long exposure shots, as the wind coming towards or from behind gives a vortex effect in your shot, while wind from the side gives you a completely different effect as your clouds will move sideways in your shot.
Here’s an example of ‘the vortex effect’:
And here’s an example of the sideways effect:
These shots were both planned beforehand, knowing wind speed, wind direction, and cloud cover.
Depending on what country you are in, some countries have very detailed real-time radars. Fog and visibility radars are super useful. When I am going to shoot a sunrise and fog is predicted, you want to be sure that there is actually fog when you wake up (so that you don’t get up at 4 AM for nothing). What I then do is check the visibility radar in my country (we have one in the Netherlands). I can see the actual live visibility on this radar for every place in the country. If the visibility is low (lower than like 3 km) I know that there is fog and that it’s time to get moving. You’ll need to find radar data for whatever country and location you’re in.
You can basically use Photopills for everything else you need. The Photopills website also offers countless of reading and video material to occupy you for weeks. You can plan the position of the sun, moon, Milky Way, stars, star trails, moon phase, sunset times, moonset times, everything.
The augmented reality function is the one I use most. With this, you can hold your smartphone in front of you and use the camera of the phone and see all kinds of info in real time. This way you can plan a sunset/sunrise or moonset/moon rise at a certain scene by holding your camera and checking what date/time the sun or moon will be at an exact location.
You can also plan Milky Way shots with this. By going to a location during the day, you can see how the stars align at different times during the night. These are all tricks to carefully plan aligned sun/moon/Milky Way shots.
Here are some handy functions to be aware of:
See exact daily times of sunset, sunrise, blue hour, twilight etc
See exact locations and elevations from the sun/moon/Milky Way
Moon calendar for moon phases. A new moon is important for Milky Way shots
Augmented reality function to see things in real time
Star trails calculator for different exposure times
Much more. I honestly don’t even know all of the functions myself.
Sun and Moon Calculators
I use suncalc.org and mooncalc.org. Similar to Photopills and free. These are just websites that quickly let you check the sun/moon position on certain dates. Quite helpful if you don’t have the app and just quickly want to plan a moon/sun shot.
What a lot of people do not realize is that tons of places have live webcams. Webcams are extremely useful to check the weather on location. Even traffic cams can be used. When you want to visit a location in your own country, check the weather on a webcam and see how the weather looks right there and then. You’ll be amazed how many places actually have webcams. Just type ‘THE PLACE NAME + webcam’ into Google!
When you’re doing landscape photography, you’ll start to know the weather (especially in your own country) after a while. For example, great colorful sunsets usually appear when there are lots of clouds in the sky with a big opening at the horizon right before sunset.
Another thing when planning shots of certain buildings is to just call them and verify that there’s no construction. I often hear people wanting to take that iconic shot of a beautiful church or cathedral, only to find out that the whole thing is under construction when they arrive. It only takes a phone call to quickly ask, especially if you have to drive a bunch of hours to get to the location.
I plan most of my shots with a combination of the things mentioned in this article. These are the tools I personally use. Regarding smartphone apps and websites: there are obviously alternatives to the things I use, and everyone has their own preferences.
Tons of shots in my personal portfolio were simply planned with the above tools. Of course, when you go out to shoot a lot you occasionally get some ‘luck’ and find some epic conditions. But more often than not, a shoot still fails.
I hope you found this information and inspiration useful. Good luck!
About the author: Albert Dros is a 31-year-old award-winning Dutch photographer. His work has been published by some of the world’s biggest media channels, including TIME, The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, and National Geographic. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on Facebook and Instagram. This article was also published here.
Nevada Law and the Nevada Administrative code have a simple definition of when you need to have a permit to shoot photos in their parks. It is based entirely on whether or not the pictures will be sold.
Nonetheless, the policy of the Parks division is that anyone shooting pictures of a model is assumed to be doing “commercial photography” even when they have evidence to the contrary. After a lengthy discussion with both a park and the Deputy Administrator of the Parks Division, they have confirmed this interpretation. And it’s worse than just getting a permit; there is a burdensome procedure you have to go through before the shoot, even if it’s just two people, and as a permittee, you are highly restricted in where you can shoot.
Let’s do a little thought experiment. Suppose there are two fellows, Bradley and Randy, who are in a State Park in Nevada.
Bradley is an internationally-known commercial photographer. He has been engaged by a top ten advertising company to produce photos for use by a foreign luxury car maker. Their idea is to take pictures of iconic American landscapes and Photoshop in their autos to make their product feel more “American.” Bradley is being paid a retainer of $50,000 to take the pictures, plus will get an additional $20,000 each for every one they use in their ads. He and his camera wander around all over the various State Parks in Nevada for two months, shooting away.
Randy made a bunch of money in the tech industry. He has used it to buy a Nikon D810 and a really big lens. He also has used that money to attract a high maintenance girlfriend, Suzy. Suzy is “a model” — she will tell anyone who listens because she graduated from Barbizon and got a job once handing out flyers at a local liquor store. In fact, since she got paid for that, she proudly tells that same anyone that she is a “professional model.” While driving around in the park, Randy has Suzy get out of the Maybach once in a while and takes her picture. He loves the power he feels from directing her, and she loves to have her picture taken. When they get home you just know that Suzy will proudly plaster those pictures all over her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Because, well, that’s what “professional models” do.
Do either of them need a permit for “commercial photography” in the Parks? Well, let’s see if we can figure it out…
The law and regulations tell us:
‘Commercial photography’ means photography engaged in for financial gain, including, without limitation, the sale of a photographic image as a product or for use in advertising, motion pictures, portraits, television productions or portfolios and the archiving of an image by a person who uses photographic skills, equipment or resources to provide a photographic product for sale. [Source: NAC 407.0071, emphasis added.]
Well, Bradley is the big-time commercial photographer who is shooting pictures to sell for advertising and getting big bucks for it, so he needs a permit. Right?
Not so fast. The Nevada Park system has a set of rules, one of which states:
The division will not charge individual photographers that are taking pictures privately or commercially, if they are alone without props or models. Commercial photography engaged in by one person does not require a permit or any additional fees.
So Bradley is off the hook. He can keep all that hard earned money and shoot freely without restriction. But what about Randy?
Randy has a problem. His girlfriend is “a model.” Worse, she thinks she is a “professional model” and so does the Park system. Neither one of them knows what “professional model” means, but never mind that. Randy is there with Suzy, so he needs a “commercial photography” permit. That his pictures are only destined for social media, not for sale or for advertising, means nothing. That he has no chance of ever being a professional photographer doesn’t matter. That he has never made a dime from selling pictures and never will don’t matter. That what he is doing does not meet the definition in the law for “commercial photography” doesn’t matter. He is there with Suzy, taking pictures of Suzy, and so he needs a permit.
For Randy to take pictures of Suzy, all he has to do is get $300,000 in liability insurance policy, make sure the Park is a “named insured”, file an application with a $50 fee, do a survey of the Park without Suzy in the car, and then make an appointment with a park ranger, get the places he wants to take pictures of her approved, and he is all set to tour the park with Suzy the next day.
Now, he still can’t take pictures of her in places he hasn’t had approved. If they drive by a group of tourists at an especially appealing location that Randy missed during his survey, and all those tourists are taking selfies and pictures of each other, Randy can’t stop the car and take a picture of Suzy no matter how much she whines.
And if he happens to be in the Park after 5:00 PM, which is very likely because Suzy really is not a morning person, he can’t take pictures of her either, because that’s what the rules say if you have a permit. Never mind that all the other tourists can happily snap away until sundown — Randy can’t.
All the above is taken from the statute, the Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) and the Rules that the Park system publishes to describe how it administers the law and the Code. It might, at this point, be worthwhile to point out that the regulations in the Code, and the Rules which implement them, are under the authority of the Administrator, whose charter to issue those regulations and rules is also contained in the statute. In this case, the relevant statute says:
Any regulations relating to the conduct of persons within the park or recreational facilities must:
(a) Be directed toward one or both of the following:
(1) Prevention of damage to or misuse of the facility.
(2) Promotion of the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the people of this State through the preservation and use of the facility.
It appears that, in the wisdom of the Nevada Park System, all the things Randy has to do, in bold above, are for the purpose of helping him find inspiration and enjoyment in taking his pictures of Suzy. Or perhaps, imposing those requirements on Randy, but not on any of the other thousands of tourists who use the park, take pictures of each other in the park, but don’t happen to have a girlfriend who is “a model” somehow protects all those other tourists.
Author’s note: A copy of this article has been sent to the management of the Nevada Parks division to confirm accuracy, but they have made no response.
About the author: Roger Talley is a former professional fashion photographer who has been retired for over a decade now. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Talley has authored a book on modeling: The Professional’s Guide to Modeling. You can find more of his work on his website and portfolio.
How to Do Splashes in Product Photos Using Speedlights
Adding a splash can add impact to product photos that involve liquid. Here’s a 9-minute video in which photographer Dustin Dolby of workphlo shows how you can capture splashes with speedlights.
With your glass set up on plexiglass to achieve a perfect reflection, utilizing the tips in his previous tutorial about photographing glass to achieve proper lighting, try putting a couple of diffusers in front of the speedlight to achieve a silky look.
This will remove the harsh edges around the glass you may be experiencing. Here’s the difference it makes:
With a second speedlight set up from the side, on the lowest power possible, it highlights the edges of the garnish on the glass. The low power means a shorter flash duration, which is essential for freezing the water later on.
By capturing initial exposures like this, and perfecting the light before adding the splashes, you’re able to create compositions between a splash and your “blank canvas” frame. For example, should you accidentally cast a shadow over the frame, you can mask this out of the background easily.
Another great benefit of this is that you can comp out the dirty plexiglass, which will inevitably be covered in splashes from dropping an ice cube into the glass again and again.
The dramatic background is created by using curves later, bringing in the attractive gradient instead of leaving the high-key background. Check out the full video above to see exactly how to do this for yourself.
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