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“Are the shadows in many of your images so dark it’s hard to see detail in them? Would you like to see more detail in shadows without making highlights overly bright? Who doesn’t have this problem? There’s a quick and easy cure. Use InstaFlash to bring shadow detail out into the open.

Of all the flash simulation apps, InstaFlash can produce the strongest results and unlike many of its competitors it generates results that are surprisingly free of digital artifacts, like haloing …”

I consider InstaFlash a must have app.

Read the rest on The Huffington Post.

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While visiting friends at their new house in Carmelo, Uruguay I enjoyed making photographs to help me savor the experience more. Muchas gracias Marinuccis!

Visit larger images on Google+.

View more Contact Sheets here.

3 Ways To iPhone HDR

October 10, 2013 | 1 Comment

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If you’d like to use HDR techniques for your mobile photographs you’ve got choices. Moving from simple and limited to more complex and robust, consider these three: first, the iPhone Camera app’s built in HDR function; second, the app Pro HDR; and third the app TrueHDR. I use all three, moving from one to another as the contrast of the scene increases.

The strength of HDR renderings and the artifacts they tend to produce can be varied to suit individual tastes. Regardless of whether you favor a light touch or a heavy hand, if you photograph, with or without a smart phone, sooner or later you’ll need HDR. It’s an essential technique …

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

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Here’s an excerpt from my latest post on The Huffington Post.

Think Outside The Frame

“No one needs to learn to “think outside the box” more than photographers. The frame, literally a box, is often our greatest ally. Learning to see photographically is in part learning to see within the limits of this box and use them creatively. But there are times when this limits our vision unnecessarily. Once we’ve learned to see within the box, we then need to learn to see outside the box — and start extending the frame to perfect select compositions. There are three ways to do this; crop (after exposure), sweep (make extended format exposures in camera), or stitch (blend separate exposures together); or combine all three. Extending format techniques aren’t just for panoramic image formats. They can be used to give you the extra inch that can make all the difference in the world for your compositions.

Stitching has multiple functions, making it an essential skill for today’s photographer. Regardless of whether you use panoramic aspect ratios, the practice of extending format through photo merges can help you perfect many compositions in ways that are often challenging and in some cases impossible to do otherwise. It can help you choose a better angle of view without eliminating essential information or include essential information when you either can’t or don’t have time to change angle of view. When this skill becomes second nature, you’ll find that you’ve become visually more versatile, flexible, productive, and accomplished. Extended format techniques offer new ways of seeing.”

Find out about the iPhone apps that will help you make the best panoramic images …

Read the full post on The Huffington Post.

Find more iPhone photography resources here.

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I enjoy seeing the flow of thought that becomes visible in contact sheets. One idea builds on (or diverges from) another. Some moves are repetitive; some moves introduce one or more significant variations. As I work, I ask questions like, “On what level does an image work?”, ”What is a significant variation?”. “When do two or more images reinforce each other?”.

Will these images make the cut? It’s unlikely. But themes within them will resurface in future finished work. In fact they already have. These themes have been with me ever since I began photographing; they look very similar to two images I made for my first exhibit and are related to images in several existing series like Illumination, Refraction, and Resonance.

Even if these images and what I learned from making them bears no fruit, it was time well spent. I truly enjoyed the better part of an hour savoring and playing with light.

View more Contact Sheets here.

View finished images here.

Mobile Masters, an iPad eBook by Dan Marcolina features 50 of the worlds most notable iPhoneographers. (Caponigro, Eismann, Hollingsworth, Kost, Marcolina and many more.)

Priced at $2.99 this iPad eBook features…

- Over 50 varied Artists from around the world are represented

- Many step-by-step “app-stacking” secrets revealed with a swipe of the figure

- Personal video interviews from 30 artist discussing how iPhoneography has changed them and photography

- Many image tutorial video

- Over an hour of video included

- In-depth text descriptions with direct links to each app mentioned

- Hand selected portfolio of additional work from each artist

- Direct links to each artist websites, blogs, and even email address

Find it here.

I love the spontaneity inherent in smart phone photography. Having a cell phone camera constantly at your side changes the way you see the world. You become more aware of the world around you, taking notice of people, places, things and events that might pass you by unconsidered. You tune in – creatively. If you want to live a more considered life I highly recommend trying cell phone photography. You can quickly and easily capture the moments in between moments. Smartl phone photography offers an invitation to celebrate the ‘smaller’ events in between the ‘larger’ events of your life. There may be a little Zen spirit at work here sometimes it is first shot best shot.

These accumulated moments add up. Over time the products of these stolen moments build something larger. Unintended bodies of work may materialize unexpectedly. The constant pull of brief episodes of creativity may even prepare the way for extended bursts of creativity.

Exercising creativity is like exercising a muscle; the more you practice the stronger you get.

Find more than a dozen images all made in the space of 45 minutes spent wandering the decks of the Russian research vessel Akademik Sergey Vavilov during an arctic cruise from Svalbard to Greenland and Iceland.

View them on The Huffington Post.

Read more iPhone resources here.

Every year I travel with my son and wife to visit her family in Italy. In between moments at the beach, visits to family members houses, and long meals I steal a moment here and there to make photographs, sometimes lagging behind, sometimes rushing ahead, other times ducking around a corner. The environment is very different from the ones I work in professionally. I use this as an opportunity to explore other interests. I find periodically getting out of my comfort zone and exploring other subjects in other environments helps me be a more versatile artistically. The things I learn along the way can later be transposed to my professional work.

How does play inform your image-making?

Here’s a selection of recent images of Italian walls, doors, and windows.

(All of these images were taken and processed with an iPhone.)

 Learn more about iPhone photography in my column on the Huffington Post.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

 

 

Using Props

July 27, 2012 | Leave a Comment

Most images can be compared to a stage. There’s an environment, a central character (often with a secondary character), an action performed, a prop (or two or three or four, maybe more), and light. Props are thought of as so secondary that we often overlook them and their contributions to great dramas. At a minimum, props make an environment richer and more interesting. Sometimes props do more, providing a catalyst for action or a stimulus for interaction.

Try using props in your images to stimulate many creative ideas.

When it comes to props, you’ve got options. Props can be single or multiple, repeated or varied, found or purchased either on site or offsite, old or new, manufactured, handmade, or natural … just keep going. The possibilities are seemingly limitless. Almost anything can be a prop.

Finding the limits of what makes a prop may be one of the most insightful things you’ll learn during your explorations.

There are some fine lines to explore when using props.

Props can make or break images. The right prop animates an image making it stronger. The wrong prop confuses and disrupts an image’s integrity. Appropriate really isn’t an appropriate word to use when selecting a prop. Sometimes an inappropriate or absurd addition is what adds meaningful ambiguity, tension, or complexity. Useful is better word to use. When choosing a prop, ask yourself. “Does it contribute and reinforce or does it distract and detract from a statement?”

The story and character props bring with them can add interest and energy to almost any image. Props can turn ordinary images into extraordinary one. Props can also clutter or overload picture perfect pictures. There is much to be gained by exploring the differences between placing props in already strong compositions and deliberately weakening the graphic impact of a composition, making it perfectly imperfect, to emphasize the storied quality a prop contributes.

Using props raises a lot of questions. In fact it may be the questions props raise that makes them so full of potential and possibilities.

Is an object a prop if you find it rather than select it? Props are usually deliberately chosen rather than incidentally found (except in existential dramas or French films) because rather than dumbly filling space they comment, whether directly or obliquely, on the place, person, or events at hand. Props are relevant.

Is it a prop if you don’t move it? There’s an interesting distinction to be drawn between photographing found objects that haven’t been moved and those that have. Whether the distance is long or short, if you transport an object to a new location it becomes a prop.

Does repetition of the same prop change its function or status as a prop? If a repeated prop is not placed in context carefully it can become the central subject. Used strategically repeated props can provide continuity between two or more images. Firearms are not the only smoking guns found in mysteries.

Is it a prop if it’s the central subject? An object photographed with a minimal background is a study. A found set of objects is a still life, though many still lifes are selected, moved, and constructed.

At what point does an object become a prop? It’s useful to remember that, rather than stealing the show, props prop something else up. Props are supporting actors in a larger drama. Props are used for accent, counterpoint, and interaction but they are rarely the central focus, at least not the sole focus. Admittedly, the line drawn between a prop (a secondary element) and a subject (a primary element) can be very fine, at time almost indistinguishable.

There may be no definitive conclusions to these questions, save the images you make.

What is undeniable is that each move you make has consequences,

You’ll learn a lot by looking at how other people use props in their images. Here are a few examples of great uses of props in photography.

Joyce Tenneson often asks the subjects she makes portraits of to hold objects that contribute something elusively poetic to the picture.

Horst Wackerbarth has made a career of transporting a red couch around the world and photographing it in all manner of locations.

Sean Duggan’s series Artifacts Of An Uncertain Origin, places man-made objects in an unlikely way into natural scenes as if by magic.

Albert Lamorisse’s  movie The Red Balloon, which was later adapted as a book of stills, takes its title from a prop that becomes more than a prop or a central character in the drama.

Keep looking for other good examples and you’ll find there’s more to learn everyday.

With just a little more thought, you can go even further. Physicist Richard Feynman championed the thought experiment. Just imagine what you can do with props.

If William Shakespeare is right and “all the world’s a stage … “ then how you accessorize your images, and perhaps even your life, with props, will speak volumes.

Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Here’s a selection of my iPhone experiments with props.

Read more on iPhone photography here.

How many times have you wished you could quickly straighten lines in an image that have been distorted by perspective? Being able to control perspective is particularly important for architectural photography and it can be used to make stronger compositions in all images.

How many times have you wished you could control the aspect ratio of an image? Making an image more horizontal, square, or vertical or changing an image from one to another can be a powerful tool for creating more expressive images.

One app will do both — FrontView.

Read more at The Huffington Post.

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