New Experiences At Grayson Highlands State Park

New Experiences At Grayson Highlands State Park

As I mentioned in my last post, I was fortunate enough to spend a week at my families cabin in the mountains of Virginia. Grayson Highlands State Park is less than 20 minuets away from the cabin, so you best believe that I visited it! My Dad's family actually used to own a portion of the land that became the park. You can still find a family graveyard in it's boundaries.

Over the week I was there I made multiple trips to the state park. On each trip I made sure to push my boundaries, and try some new things photographically. Despite my reservations I found that I really enjoyed everything I attempted, and now I have a few new skills!

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A Trip That Has Been A Long Time Coming...

A Trip That Has Been A Long Time Coming...

I was first told about Pickle Springs Natural Area not too long after I moved to Missouri. I think it was at one of the first shows that I displayed photos from my hikes around the state. It sounded like an incredible place: canyons, large rock formations, seasonal waterfalls, and more. I quickly added it to my list of places to visit, and now, after three years of putting it off, I finally went!

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Putting It All Together: How To Use Manual Mode

Putting It All Together: How To Use Manual Mode

If you have been following along over the past few weeks, then you will already understand how the individual exposure settings (ISO, aperture, and shutter speed) work. With these three settings there are an uncountable number of combinations that can be used to create an image. It can seem like a lot to take on, but with a little bit of direction you can learn how to control every aspect of your photograph…

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Dialing In Your Exposure with Shutter Speed

Dialing In Your Exposure with Shutter Speed

It's finally time for the last piece of the exposure puzzle. If you understand ISO and aperture, which I covered in the last two articles, then you are well on your way to making sense of exposure. All that's left is shutter speed, and thankfully it's the easiest of the three to grasp. It's straightforward, but it also allows for a wide range of interesting creative choices.

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Using Aperture To Build Your Exposure

Using Aperture To Build Your Exposure

There are three main controls for creating an exposure: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Many put these settings in the context of a triangle as a way to show how they interact with each other, but as I stated previously, I like to think of them as forming a pyramid. I feel that the pyramid model is a better metaphor for how you build an exposure one piece at a time.
Last time we discussed ISO, the base of the pyramid. This post will go over the next level, aperture.

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An Introduction to ISO, The Foundation Of Exposure

An Introduction to ISO, The Foundation Of Exposure

When you practice photography as an art, you will begin to feel the need to take more control of what the camera is doing. Once you feel confident enough to do this, a good place to start is with ISO. It is a rating of how sensitive your sensor (or film) is to light. Not only does it have a major impact on your other settings, but it also changes the quality of the photo itself. 

At the heart of it, ISO is the basis of your exposure …

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How I Made This Photo Of The Puerto Rican Capitol Building

How I Made This Photo Of The Puerto Rican Capitol Building

Today I'm going to give something new a shot, so let me know if you like this in the comments, and I can do more in the future. I'm going to go through the entire process of creating my photograph the Puerto Rican Capitol building: from how I found the location, to how I created the photograph, to how I edited it. Through doing this I hope to share more of the full process, and inspire you to go out and create something exciting!

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How To Use Exposure Compensation To Make Better Photographs

How To Use Exposure Compensation To Make Better Photographs

The best exposure for a photograph is the one that fits your vision. Unfortunately, we have to rely on our camera's light meters to help pick our settings, and as I have written before they don't always give the desired results. To achieve the exact exposure you want, you have to correct for the deficiencies of how light meters work. Luckily, that's exactly what EV compensation is for.

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How To Make An Ideal Exposure

How To Make An Ideal Exposure

Every choice you make while setting up your photograph impacts the exposure of your photograph. It's a little more complex than simply brightening or darkening a photograph though, because each distinct level of light is affected differently as the exposure is adjusted. If a photograph is overly bright or dark it is considered to be incorrectly exposed, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad photograph. There is much more to the pursuit of a great photograph than making a technically correct exposure.

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Building Mood Through Color

Building Mood Through Color

If you're like me, you have probably gone to take a photo of a beautiful sunset, but it just doesn't look as spectacular as it did in real life. While the sky is on fire, your photo looks dull and lifeless. 

Chances are you already know that color has a major affect on how an image looks, but color can also impact how your photographs are perceived. There are fields of study that look at the effect color has on our psychology; it is fascinating how different hues can elicit emotional…

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What I Packed For My 3 Week Trip To Puerto Rico

What I Packed For My 3 Week Trip To Puerto Rico

Annika, my wife, travels quite bit by nature of her job. I have been unable to go with her in the past, but when we found out she would be traveling to Puerto Rico for a month, we knew I had to come along. I had two weeks to prepare before I followed her, which was just enough time to figure everything out.

While I was in the early stages of planning, I decided to make this trip with only one bag. Doing this would make traveling easier, and would force me to minimize so I…

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A Thorough Lesson On Light Meters

A Thorough Lesson On Light Meters

Whether you know it or not, metering is the foundation of your exposure. It is how your camera decides what an appropriate exposure is, and the method it uses can make a big difference in the resulting image. Unless you know how to set your ISO, shutter, and aperture from memory, then it is worth while to understand what your meter does, and how each mode works.

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Illuminating Your Vision: Light, Shadow, and Your Photography

Illuminating Your Vision: Light, Shadow, and Your Photography

From it’s very conception photography has been all about light. When it was first invented, Joseph Niepce was looking for a way to create accurate copies of lithographs by "drawing with light". He accomplished this by creating a light sensitive compound that when properly processed created a perfect black and white duplicate.  

From the very beginning light was at the heart of photography. Today, despite all of the advances photography has made since Niepce's time, light still has the greatest impact on how a photograph turns out: not only in a physical sense, but in an artistic one as well. 

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What The Heck Are Shooting Modes

What The Heck Are Shooting Modes

Up to this point I have been approaching photography strictly from an artistic perspective, but as important as the art of photography is, it is good practice to understand the technical aspects as well. Knowing how to fully utilize your equipment, and understanding its limitations, will only help you create your ideal images. That being the case, I will start sharing intermittent articles dedicated to learning how to use the tools of photography. 

First up is camera shooting modes. Whether it be on a dslr, mirrorless, or point and shoot, almost every mode selection dial will have these five options: full auto, program ….

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The Truth About Composition

The Truth About Composition

At its most basic, composition is simply the arrangement of elements in an image. It may have a simple definition, but it is by no means a simple subject. Artist, critics, and scholars have argued about what constitutes a "good" composition for centuries. 

A successful composition not only communicates the artists intention, but it also draws the viewer in and encourages them to spend time exploring the image. In this post I will cover a few common misconceptions everyone (including myself) has made, and then I will share 5 basic elements I have found to make up all compositions. 

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Understanding Subject: The Heart Of Your Photograph

Understanding Subject: The Heart Of Your Photograph

How often do you find yourself excited to take a photograph of something amazing, only for the photo to turn out weak and not even close to what you expected? This happened to me countless times as I started out, and it still does occasionally.

More often than not, the problem with these photographs is a lack of a clear subject. the good news is that this is a fairly easy problem to fix by taking the time to consciously define your subject before making your photograph.

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What Makes A Photograph Good

What Makes A Photograph Good

As I alluded to in my previous post, in order to improve as a photographer it is important to understand what makes a photograph work. A photograph can be broken down into various components (composition, subject, lighting, etc), and how well these elements work together will dictate how good the final image is. In the best images this balance is directed by the photographers vision.

Implementing this simple step into your photography will help guide your decisions as a photographer, and will increase the success of your images.  

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What You Need To Create Great Photographs

What You Need To Create Great Photographs

Last week I shared my own winding journey to becoming a better photographer. The starting point is different for everybody, which is evident if you’ve ever Googled how to improve your photography. You’ll likely find numerous versions of “5 tips to take better photos now”. These posts can have good advice, but their suggestions typically only scratch the surface of what you really need to begin growing as a photographer. 

Regardless of what your journey looks like, in the end all photographers gain a similar set of knowledge and skills (not including specialties). In this post I will be outlining what I have found to be essential requirements for making great photographs. 

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Saint Louis: Tiffany

Saint Louis: Tiffany

After my adventure in the Smoky Mountains I decided to stay close to home for the next outing. I visited Tiffany, one of Saint Louis' many neighborhoods, with my friend Jason Gray... While the neighborhood is largely residential, Jason and I walked around the areas under development. This gave me a chance to use up the film I had left over from the Smokies.

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