Wednesday, September 9, 2015

We've Grown & Moved!!


It's actually been awhile since I've posted on this blog — Life, Business, The Economic Mess, etc. have all kept me busy, so this blog has been kinda forgotten — Sorry…

I've also moved a lot of my "news, thoughts and photos" to Facebook, getting caught up in that whole thing too, but it's almost starting to pay off now. Now, you can get more up to date news if you "Like" our Facebook pages — Alternative Focus & Tony Locke Photography to keep track of our events and fun tips and tricks.

Also during all that time, we've made several changes to our company and it's offerings, along with adding a new, more active website, which also houses my blog now too. I will be consolidating my other blogs (Tony's Photoshop Tips & Tricks and Eruisko Travel Photography) there too — So, if you're one of my blog followers, move on over to (no caps needed), sign up for our newsletter, and enjoy all of the new things going on.

We've also started two other side companies, loosely related to our photography work, as we're still working with artists, but have broadened our reach.

Armchair ePublishing is our eBook and book layout company, working with indie authors to get their page layout and book cover designed, allowing them to sell and self-publish their books. That eats up a lot of my time. And also helps pay more of the bills.

Alternative Inbound Marketing  started off as building websites and marketing for artists, but has grown to include many companies of all types, that would like great marketing, social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and a company website, all from one source. This eats up a lot of Karla's time, and help pays the bills too.

If you, or anyone you know can use any of these new services, please let us know. We're now working internationally.

So, that's the latest news. Hope you all come on over and join us at our new place.

Tony D. Locke, MM

Friday, August 19, 2011

As many of you already know, I've moved most of my blog posting over to a Wordpress based site with the same name: Tony's Photographic Blog.  Here's my latest entry over there while you're here visiting. But go ahead and go there and update your bookmarks and RSS stuff while you're there.
Part of learning photography is to take on new challenges, experiences and projects. As a catalyst to egg me on to keep shooting something different each week, I've joined a group called Focus52 - Shoot at least one new photo a week for 52 weeks. Most weeks have a Prompt for you to follow too.
As part of this weeks Prompt; Water, I thought I'd challenge myself to learn something new and somewhat different. I've seen this trick done several times over the years, and have always added it to my "I'll have to learn that some day list", well today's the day for this line item.

This photo shows the main set-up. First, before you start adding water to the glasses, get everything else in place, experiment with placements, angles and lights long before you start tilting the platform the glasses are sitting on, and especially before adding water to the experiment. I spent a good part of the evening, just trying to figure out the best placement of lights, including the light-table I used as a backdrop. Turns out, it's a bit smaller than I needed, so I had to get the glasses as close to it as possible so that edges didn't show. The rest of it is just moving things around, take a shot, look at your screen, adjust as necessary the props/lights/camera settings, shot again, look at your screen, repeat as necessary.
I was mostly going for the best even lighting with the fewest reflections, especially bright spots in the glass. I don't have any soft-boxes, so I had to make due with what I had. If I had a little bit more time, I would have tried a few other things too.
Once you're pretty comfortable with your set-up, it's time to start tilting the platform that the glasses are on. My first set of test shots didn't have enough of an angle for what I wanted, so I had to tilt a bit more. I just used a cardboard box with a rubber placemat on top. Notice to the side a couple of measuring cups I used as 'technical spacers' to hold the box at the angle I needed. Also, I used a couple of standard 'cereal bowls' to get the light-table up to the the proper height I discovered I'd need once I started tilting things.
You'll also notice a ruler on hand for proper spacing of the glasses - And important - A towel to not only clean fingerprints off the glass, but water spots during the shoot too. Off to the other, "down-hill side" is a larger towel, just in case gravity takes over a little too much.
Once I got the proper angle, then it's a matter of tilting the camera so that it's still parallel and square with the glasses and platform. A ruler helped here too, make sure you're square from left to right also.
Now it's just matter of adding water. I used a small little pitcher that allowed me to pour a bit more accurately, with less spills and splashing. From there, it's must more experimenting as too how much water you'll need. Keep that towel handy, as you're going to need to dab out water spots still.
Every step of the way, I'd fire off a couple shots, just in case. Tweak the lights as needed, play some more and shoot some more.
As for the colored water; I was going to use food coloring (I even thought about using juice at one point, but that's very messy to clean-up and expensive too), but didn't have any, so the colors were added in Photoshop afterwards - Which is another lesson on my Photoshop blog for another day.
Enjoy, experiment, have fun,

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I've Moved – Follow Me To My New Sites

Hello, first, I'd like to Thank all of you that have followed me over the years. I know there haven't been many of you yet, but I do appreciate those of you that have. And, I know that I'm not real punctual at keeping this site up to date, but I do try, and will increase the posts even more now that I've made some changes. I'm still in the process of learning about all of this blog business stuff, as I've still got a lot of fun teaching about photography to pass on. So read on, have fun and pass the word to all your friends to follow me too.

In order to kind of concentrate my thoughts, messages and/or ideas (I know, those who know me are probably laughing when I said "concentrate"... Ha, go ahead, laugh), I've moved to a WordPress based web-site and have broke things into three different venues of teaching:

Tony's Photography Tips, which will concentrate on camera's and general photography skills in general. Even though photography equipment has made some huge advancements in the last 5 years or so, the basics of photography and how your camera makes an image are all still the same. In order to be a great photographer, you'll need to at least be comfortable with the "tools" that are available.

Tony's Photoshop & Lightroom Tips, which will concentrate on, you guessed it – Photoshop & Lightroom Tips and Ideas. Both of these "Digital Darkroom" packages have come a long ways, and are even more powerful today, providing an unprecedented amount of power to todays photographer that likes to work on their own images after the shot.

And now my latest addition – Eurisko Adventures. This latest web-site will concentrate more on the specifics of travel and adventure photography. There are those that specialize in weddings, family/senior portraits, pets, food, architectural, etc. Me, I like to travel and explore, which generally includes a little bit of adventure – This is a place for me to tell you how you can too.

As always, go to my Facebook; Tony Locke Photography to keep up with all that's going on, make sure you LIKE it so that you'll receive all the news that news. Also, make sure you go over to Alternative Focus Workshops Facebook (shared with That Photo Shoppe), LIKE it too, and the Blog to sign up for our newsletter and keep up with our on going (and very exciting) Photography, Photoshop & Lightroom Workshops. You just missed a great 2-day workshop on San Juan Island.

So, move on over to the new sites, bookmark them, LIKE them and of course – Tell Your Friends Too! We've got a lot of new ideas, events and other fun things coming up this year.

Thanks again for coming by,
See you at the new and improved places for me to get all of these ideas out of my head,
Tony D. Locke, MM
(still reigning, Master of Madness)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2.2 of Tony's Tips For Creative Shutter Speed Images

Whether you’re inside photographing family or outside capturing a cowboy at the rodeo, knowing how to capture motion is an important photographic skill to practice. There’s “Normal shutter speed”, then there’s “Creative shutter speeds”.
Sometimes freezing the action is what’s needed, while other times using slow shutter speeds of up to 20 seconds or longer are required to get the right effect. Here are 2.2 techniques which will help you convey or imply motion in your images to your viewers. With these 2.2 techniques, it doesn’t matter whether you want to stop the action or add blur - You’re the one in control of your image.

Tip #1) Those Silky Water Shots. This technique is one of my favorites. Be fore-warned, these require very long shutter speeds - And a tripod. Water is an integral part of many landscape images, and to be creative you need to first ask the question: Will this image look better with the water frozen in place or silky and blurred?

Most of the time, unless it’s wave crashing up over some rocks, I prefer to have my water smooth and silky. These types of shots help set a different type of mood in your landscapes. 

What shutter speed works best? If you’d like to get that soft water effect, start with shutter speeds around 1⁄4 to 2 sec.  
Again, you’ll need a tripod at these speeds. You want everything else in the scene; bridges, docks, rocks, trees, etc. to be rock solid (pun intended). Only the water, or in the case of this train too, should show any motion.

Would you believe that this train was only traveling at walking speed? With a long enough shutter speed, about 2 sec here, it looks like he's moving much faster - The magic of photography!

At these speeds your camera will still retain most of the detail and contrast in the water, it’s just going to be smoother. If you really want to have some fun, try shooting even slower, jump up to 15 to 30 seconds.

Now, in order to get these creative slower shutter speeds without creating an overly bright exposure, you’ve got to employ some other techniques to limit the amount of light that’s able to get to your sensor.
You’ve got several options. You’re first option is to set your aperture to ƒ/22 (Remember - The larger the number the smaller the aperture, the less light going to make it thru that hole). Also, if that’s not enough, adding a polarizing filter will reduce the light another one to two stops beyond that. This combination should allow for a shutter speed of around a several seconds. 
This works even better on overcast, rainy days as the light levels will already be lower than sunny days - Plus, as an added bonus, your colors will be more saturated and the vegetation and rocks will have a nice wet sheen to them.
Who says you can’t have fun on rainy days? Some of my best shots are taken then. Now, when it’s pouring down and the wind’s blowing, sorry, but it’s not fun outside anymore.

OK, next. In-order to get those really, really slow speeds you see in some of those amazing images, you’ll need more help. You can add a relatively inexpensive Neutral Density (ND) filter or two to block some more of the light entering your lens. ND filters are essentially, dark grey pieces of glass which restrict light without altering colors. Depending on how much light you’d like to restrict for these slower shutter speeds, you could add incremental ND filters rated at 1, 2, or 3-stops each. Again, each stop of light reduction means one more click slower on your shutter speed settings, with each f-stop equaling half as much light as the previous setting. But - And you there was going to be a “But”, as everything has a trade off. These extra layers of possibly distorting glass, stacked on the front of your lens, may not be doing your images justice. 
Next option in the ‘ole tool bag. Everyone that loves long exposure photography loves the Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter. This great little toy enables you to incrementally dial in the amount of light blocked, anywhere from two to ten stops, with one (albeit slightly expensive) filter—How much blur would you like today sir?
With the Vari-ND or other ND filters, you can now photograph at speeds from 20 to 30 seconds in midday sunlight (though afternoon light looks nicer), providing those incredible silky waterfalls, streaks of clouds across the sky and other-worldly looking ocean scenes. I love the look of crashing waves for 30 seconds in the late afternoon, don’t you?
Tip #1.2) If you’ve got an iPhone, iPod Touch or maybe they’ve got one for those Android phones now too, there’s a great little Free app called “Long Time” which will calculate your exposure times for you! (Here’s the: I have no relation/interest/don’t get paid/etc. from Long Time, kinda disclosure inserted here by those fine folks somewhere in some legal dept.). You know me - More cool toys & apps. By the way, just for an odd “did you know?” - I saw somewhere that the word “app” was voted 2010 top new word of the year. Shoot, I make up new words all the time. Most by accident, via the brain not communicating with the speaking parts.
OK, here’s how to use it. Take your time and get your composition all lined up ready to shot (might was well go ahead and take a shot while you’re there in case the long exposure doesn't work), set your camera to Aperture Priority, and set your aperture for the depth-of-field you’d like, then make a note of the shutter speed your meter gives you. Switch over to Manual Mode and set the same Aperture. Whip out your “Long time” app, enter in the original shutter speed and the number of stops of ND filter you’ve added - It will  now calculate the new shutter speed you’ll need. Sweet! 
Now, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but there’s something else you may not have known: This was just as much an phenomenon in the good ‘ole film days as it is today, its just that the physics and the after-effects are a bit different now. There’s no need to go into the hows, whats & whys here, that’s another long boring story. It’s just that, above a couple minutes of exposure, there are a few odd things that can happen. 
Don’t worry, it’s nothing drastic, nothing’s going to explode, the investigators from Fringe or the X-files won’t get called in, you won’t become sterile, and no, time does not stand still. It’s just that at these real long shutter speeds, the math may start falling apart and not produce the type of image or as an accurate an exposure as you’d expected, so you may need to experiment a bit more - 
Which is all part of the fun we have in this exciting hobby we call Photography!

Now - The other fun creative use of Shutter Speed. The Action-Stopper. 
Tip #2)  On the other end of the scale as you pass from long exposure, thru “normal shutter speed”, you get to practice another art of motion photography - Freezing the Action, with blazing fast shutter speeds: Think 1⁄1000 sec., 1⁄2000 sec. and even higher. Your goal now is to eliminate any blur in the image, stop the motion - Many times in mid-air. This doesn’t mean eliminating the perception of motion; just eliminating blur in the shot.

In these images of birds flying and horses playing polo, although the action is stopped, there’s no doubt about motion in the image! To really stop the action, start with a shutter speed of 1⁄1000 sec. This speed should freeze most common action, but you may need to go even faster for, you guessed it - faster action. It’s going to depend on the subjects speed and how you want to convey it to your viewers.

The compromise (yes again, there’s always a compromise) is that you’ll need a large aperture opening to allow enough light in for a properly lit exposure. Now that most of the newer digital cameras are capable of improved low noise, try dialing up your ISO to 400 or 800 to gain extra speed/light.

Now, the other challange is getting sharp focus on your subject. Here are two ways to accomplish this: One option is to use your “predictive focus tracking”, which tracks your subject refocusing while you hold the shutter button down half-way (pull out the manual for your camera to look this up) or prefocus ahead of time at the point that you’d like to capture the motion. Modern cameras are amazingly accurate with their new focus tracking capabilities, so I’ll normally use either one of these methods, depending, not only on the subject, but also, which direction it’s going. 
Many cameras feature a group-focusing pattern, which causes the camera to search for your subject as it moves through the frame - This can be a good thing or it could slow you down and cause you to lose the shot (as the puppy and grandkid go running by). Experiment with your camera to learn the best way to take advantage of each tool it includes. For the prefocus technique, try focusing on a spot where you know the subject will pass through, like jumping horses or motorcycles; practice on the first few that come thru, then lock that focus for the rest. If you can prefocus on the subject as they come up to the jump or point that you’d like to shot them, holding the shutter half-way until just the right moment.
Just remember - Photography is just like any other hobby, be it guitar, bike racing, dance or pottery -  This will take practicing, experimenting, learning more about how your camera operates in each situation, then practicing again, experimenting some more, looking at your results (which is where digital comes in real handy - looking at your experiments right away), learn from them and experiment and practice again. Luckily the practice isn’t as boring/repetitious as piano lessons can be - I know, I’ve been there.
Oh yeah, Remember one more very important tip - HAVE FUN!!

And Now, For Something Completely Different - 101 Photoshop Tips In 5 Min By Deke