I few weeks ago I had the opportunity to fly in a helicopter to photograph St. Louis’ riverfront. This is a pretty exciting thing to do if you get the chance. Be sure to have the doors off so there are not no obstructions (and be sure you are well buckeled in). Shooting with a higher ISO and a low f stop keeps the shutter speed fast. This helps counter the extreme vibration and movement of the helicopter.
In this flight with Fostaire Helocopters we flew with 3 photographers, 2 on the left and 1 on the right, behind the pilot. We flew over Busch Stadium and then did a high pass in front of the Arch and then came back arond again for a low pass. You can see the results on this page.
If there is a particular subject that you like, I suggest you go back multiple times to photograph it. The more you study a subject, the better your understanding of how to photograph it.
One of my favorite subjects is a suspension bridge in St. Louis’ Forest Park. Below is a series ranging from 2008 to 2016. Things that have changed are my cameras and software. Some of the angles are different and the overall vision of the subject. Notice the distant shot in 2008 and the closeup in 2016. Which do you think is best?
Are you thinking about taking better photos? Perhaps you have been using an iPhone camera or other cellphone device and want to produce something more interesting. If you want outstanding photos, there are two things that you need to do: 1. Invest the money in equipment and software and 2. Invest the time needed take the photos and process them.
You will need higher end cameras and software. Using digital cameras eliminates the need for an investment in film. However, you will need to invest in software needed for processing the photos and spend time learning to use that software. Entry level Nikon cameras cost about $450 and go up to $750 for the higher end entry level camera (if you are wondering, the highest pro level DSLR is the Nikon D5 at $6,500. Other types of cameras go far above that). Here is a link for Nikon’s entry level cameras. I also suggest you look at Cannon, Pentax and Olympus.
In the Nikon category, I would suggest the D5500 at $750 ($1,050 with lens). This will give you some great options that the D3XXXs do not have. Continue reading →
If you are looking for a way to see what other photographers are doing or are looking for feedback on your photos, I would suggest using a service called Flickr (flickr.com). Flickr is a great place to show off your photos for friends to see, get feedback and find other great photographers.
You can find the type of photographers that may be of interest to you. This includes style, subjects or location. I have a particular area of the country I like to visit and follow photographers from there. You can “follow” particular photographers but they do not have to “follow” you back to be able to see their work. The more people you follow, the more people that will follow you and see your work.
People that follow you will be able to rate your work by either clicking a favorite star or by commenting. Flickr is able to rate your photos by numerous methods including “interestingness.” This is a combination of views, favorites and comments received by your photo over a period of time.
According to Flickr, the above photo is my most interesting photo. To find this little house on the lake, I used Flickr to show me photos taken in Star Lake, Wisconsin. Others had visited this location and taken this photo so I was able to find it on a map so I could find this hidden treasure. An overcast Fall day made for an interesting scene.
If you would like to really improve your photos, you should shoot mostly during the “Golden Hour.” This is about 20 minutes before sunrise/sunset to 20 minutes after sunrise/sunset. At these times you will get softer but more dramatic images. This includes sunrise/sunset images, better color and fewer shadows.
If there is a particular subject you would like to photograph or if it’s an outdoor portrait, check a weather app on your cell phone to determine the best times.
The top photo was taken a few minutes after sunrise at Chaumette Winery in St. Genevieve. The bottom photo was taken about 5 or 10 minutes after sunset, following a tip I learned from another photographer: Wait! That is, don’t snap the picture of the sunset just as the sun is on the horizon. If you wait, you will see subtle colors and lighting from the sun past the horizon making a more interesting picture. By waiting I was able to get a better reflection off the lake plus the nice silhouette of the hills surrounding the lake.
For more information on taking these types of photos, see my photography tips on this page.
The bottom photo was taken at Devils Pool Restaurant at Big Cedar Lodge. I was having dinner out the deck and as the sun started to set, a number of people came to the railing to take photographs (with iPhones). I waited until the sun had set, put the camera on the railing and took this shot. Click on either photo to see a larger version.