When Serendipity Meets Luck - My Favorite Image of 2018

My family and I were fortunate to be able to spend a couple of weeks in Avalon, NJ this summer. Located on the beautiful New Jersey coastline, Avalon sits on the north end of 7 Mile Island where it neighbors Stone Harbor.

Both Avalon and Stone Harbor are fantastic places for vacation. The main attraction, the beaches, and shoreline are sublime for family beach fun, swimming, and surfing. The sand is soft and the water is a comfortable temperature in the summer and fall months. This area has been a go-to for us ever since we moved to the Philadelphia area.

It was Friday the 27th. As usual, I was up before the sunrise to capture some images but, this day, I did not go to the shoreline. I grabbed an extra-large Wawa dark roast and explored the marshy areas of the bay. After shooting a few images and enjoying the sunrise, I headed back to our rental to get ready to go for a run.

It was about 8am when I headed out. The tide was low and I decided to run on the beach. Even though the sun had long since risen, it wasn't too hot because of an ultra-thick layer of fog. I ran two and a half miles south and returned back for a total of five. It was now 9am...not typically considered the best time for photography.

However, when I finished my run, I saw a scene that was too perfect not to be captured.

The thick layer of fog had persisted on the ocean side during my run...I wasn't able to see but 200ft in front of me. Sitting next to the lifeguard stand where three colored beach chairs and a drawn umbrella where an ambitious family had staked out their piece of beachfront real-estate. Most importantly...there was nothing else! The usually busy beaches were quiet. I had to capture this image.

I ran back to the house, grabbed my gear as quickly as I could, threw it on my back, and jumped on my bike, pedaling furiously back to the beach. My daughter Sam, thought I was nuts by the way - Luv u :-).

When I arrived it was still as perfect as when I saw it. I located the ideal spot for the composition, quickly assembled the tripod, and dialed in my camera settings. Breathe...take the shot. Take another for good measure. Wait a minute...there are people entering the frame at the same time from either side...wait, wait, wait, click!

I knew I got a good shot but didn't pay too much attention to it at that moment because there were other compositions to consider as well. I took a few more images and headed back home where I met the fam.

After spending some time at the beach that afternoon, I uploaded the images to my laptop and started looking at the digital negatives, I came across this one and was personally blown away...I knew immediately it was one of my favorites of the year. Now, having looked at it dozens of times for the past month, I can confidently place it as one of my favorite images, ever. I simply love it.

It just all came together that Friday...the minimalist scene, the simple color palette, the atmosphere, the beach-goers, the perfectly situated beach chairs, and umbrella...all at once, serendipitously. Part luck...absolutely but I was prepared and a acted on it. That's how I got the shot.

If you're interested in this image for your home or office, I am making prints available in a limited edition run of just 25. Click HERE for more information.

Until next time.

Best,

John

 ‘24th Street Beach’ - ©johnguillaume

‘24th Street Beach’ - ©johnguillaume

 ‘24th Street Beach’ - Printed on Archival Paper and Framed ©johnguillaume

‘24th Street Beach’ - Printed on Archival Paper and Framed ©johnguillaume

Four Tips to Capture Better Sports Photos of your Kids

As I write this we are just around the corner from Fall sports so I wrote a post and made a quick video to share four tips to getting that keeper of your kids. You can find the video at the bottom of the post. 

  1. GET YOUR CAMERA SETUP CORRECTLY: I used Manual mode in this video to manually adjust my shutter speed and aperture that were ideal for freezing action and blurring the background. In this case 1/1000th of a second and f.4. If you’re uncomfortable using Manual mode, then consider using Shutter Priority mode which gives you control of your shutter speed while letting the camera figure out the rest of the settings. Also, put your camera on burst mode which will enable it to take as many frames per second as possible. Taking multiple frames increases your chances of getting the timing just right.

  2. USE ONE OR A FEW AUTOFOCUS POINTS: Your camera may have 20 or even 300 autofocus points on the screen. Adjust them to either one or just a few and track your subject with them until you’re ready to take the shot. This gives you control of what is in focus rather than the camera deciding and will increase your chances of getting a sharp shot of your son or daughter.

  3. ANTICIPATE THE ACTION: If you see your son waving for the ball and he’s open, point your camera towards him and wait for the ball to arrive and the click-away. If the ball is up in the air and the players are gathering below, pre-focus on the players and wait for the ball to enter the frame. Trying to track the play real-time can be daunting and difficult to consistently get correct focus. By anticipating where the action will be you’ll consistently get more keepers.

  4. AVOID UGLY AND DISTRACTING BACKGROUNDS:  Porta-Potties, garbage cans, and parking lots are not pretty. Move around the field to find angles that will minimize background clutter or something interesting that tells a story - perhaps the parents in the sidelines or a tournament banner.

For more in-depth descriptions of sports photography, shutter speed, and aperture follow the links to each.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments, below. If you found this helpful please share this post with your friends and family.

Make it a great day!

JG

Check out my new online store at www.johnguillaume.com/gallery

www.johnguillaume.com

Cool Long Exposure Photos on your iPhone - Here's How

I love long exposure photography. Many of my images are made by exposing a composition for several seconds or even several minutes. The results can be sublime...butter smooth streams of water or clouds stretched out and striated across the sky. This process can be challenging but super rewarding. Using a traditional camera you'll need a tripod, some neutral density filters and some understanding of how to operate the camera. 

with your iPhone you don't any of that stuff...long exposures are dead simple. 

Check out this image (see below) I shot of the Avalon Fishing Pier using my iPhone 7 Plus. Notice how the waves and surf have been blurred giving the image a surreal look while keeping the main subject - the pier - sharp and in focus. Pretty cool, right! Now, compare this photo to the original photo (no long exposure effect applied) at the bottom of this post. The long exposure effect changes the feeling of the photograph a lot. 

I posted a super short, how-to video on Instagram TV - check it out here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/BlqytwIAwA_/

 Avalon Fishing Pier - Shot with iPhone 7+ with Long Exposure Effect applied - ©johnguillaume 

Avalon Fishing Pier - Shot with iPhone 7+ with Long Exposure Effect applied - ©johnguillaume 

Here are a few requirements and tips to make this work: 

  1. You need iOS 11 or greater - this has been around for awhile now...if in don't you probably already have it installed. 
  2. You need to have Live View turned on - in the Camera app, it's the wheel-looking icon on the top center of your screen if holding it vertically. 
  3. The scene must have some elements that are moving (e.g. water) and others that are static (e.g. the Pier) 
  4. Hold as still as possible when taking the image. 

There you have it - long exposure on your iPhone without all the hassles of a traditional camera. 

If you like this post, I would be grateful if you share it with your friends and give it a like. If you have questions, please comment below or email me at john@johnguillaume.com

If you want see some of my fine-art photos using the long exposure technique, jump to my gallery HERE

Best,

JG

www.johnguillaume.com

 Original Photo shot on iPhone 7+ ©johnguillaume

Original Photo shot on iPhone 7+ ©johnguillaume

Shutter Priority - What is it and when to use it

I wrote about Aperture Priority in my last post which gives the photographer control of the camera’s aperture while leaving the shutter speed and ISO up to the camera. This a good setting to use for most photography including portraits, landscapes, family, and vacation. However, this setting is NOT good for freezing fast-moving subjects. 

If you're intent is to freeze fast-moving subjects, consider using Shutter Priority. This mode is designated on the camera's mode dial as 'Tv' on Canon and 'S' on most other cameras. In this mode, you, the photographer have full control of how fast the shutter opens and closes while leaving other settings like aperture and ISO up to the camera. How fast the shutter opens and closes is called ‘shutter speed.’ Shutter speed is measured in seconds or fractions of a second such as 1/800 (of a second). Shutter Priority is best when you need to capture a fast-moving child, an athlete, a motorcycle or bird. In these cases, you’ll be using shutter speeds ranging from 1/250th to 1/3000th of a second. The faster your subject the faster the required shutter speed. 

 

 good shutter speed targets:

 Shutter Speed Chart -  ©johnguillaume

Shutter Speed Chart - ©johnguillaume

Remember, the shutter speed also impacts the amount of light that your camera’s sensor receives. So, at 1/3000th of a second, you're not letting a lot of light onto your camera's sensor, so you’ll need a good amount of ambient light (and a fast lens - such a maximum aperture of f2.8 or faster) to capture an image with the proper exposure. In the absence of great light, however, your camera will compensate automatically by increasing the ISO value (ISO impacts the camera sensor's sensitivity to light). While there isn't anything inherently wrong with this, you should be aware that ISO values above 800-ish will start to introduce noticeable grain into your image. However, if a high ISO is what it takes to get the shot, then do it...sometimes you just don't have a choice. 

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below. 

If you enjoyed this post please give it a like and a share. 

Best,

JG

See my latest fine art photography here: www.johnguillaume.com 

Follow me on Instagram - www.instagram.com/john_guillaume

My Most Used Camera Setting - Aperture Priority

There are hundreds if not thousands of different camera configurations. Because of this it can be daunting to figure out how to use anything more than the Auto setting. Eighty percent of the time, however, I use the same one - Aperture Priority. Aperture Priority mode gives the photographer control over the aperture values and, more-or-less, allows the camera to determine the rest. Most camera manufacturers represent this mode on the dial as 'A' or 'Av. '

Aperture Priority is ideal for portraits, group shots, family, travel and landscapes photos.

The Aperture is the hole in the camera’s lens. The size of the hole influences how much light hits the camera’s sensor. Not surprisingly, a larger opening allows more light to reach the sensor. More often than not, this is a good thing because light is needed to create photographs. The opposite is true for smaller openings.  Aperture values are read out in f-stop numbers such as f1.8, f.2.8, f4, and all the way up to f22 (further in some cases). The smaller the f-stop value, the bigger the opening while larger f-stop values shrink the opening resulting in less light hitting the sensor but creating greater depth of field.  Let me explain further.

Depth of field is used to describe how much or little the photograph is in focus. A shallow depth of field can be demonstrated in a portrait where the background behind the person is blurred while the subject remains in focus. The opposite effect can be produced as well where there is a lot of depth of field meaning everything in the image is in focus...even the background which, is often desired in landscape or vacation photos.

To see how aperture affects an image, click through the images shown in this post. Notice how the background changes from a blur to being in focus as the aperture values increase. The pictures shot at f1.8 and f2.8 demonstrate a shallow depth of field. While the last couple shot at f16 or f22 demonstrate a lot of depth of field. Also, notice how the ISO jumps from 100 at f1.8 and up to 6400 at f22. This is because as the f-stop values increase, less light is being allowed into the camera which then automatically compensates with higher ISO values. ISO is a digital effect that increases the sensor's sensitivity to light. Higher ISO values also add grain to an image which, is often not desired.   

Note: for purposes of demonstrating how Aperture values impact depth of field, I kept the shutter speed at 1/400th to ensure my subject stayed in focus. 

Let's breakdown some situations that are well suited for using Aperture Priority mode. 

Portrait Photography

If the goal is to blur the background and isolate the subject which, often makes for a great portrait, then consider using the lowest f-stop value the lens will allow for...this could be as low as f1.2 or as high as f4 or f5.6. To further enhance the blur effect consider these three additional steps:

1) Place the subject as far away from the background as possible.

2) Use a longer zoom such as 100mm or even 200mm lens. 

3) Get closer to the subject. 

vacation, travel, landscape photography

Often, when taking images of big vistas or other beautiful scenes while on vacation or traveling, the desired outcome is to have the entire scene in focus including the foreground and background so that the image will not only capture your family in the foreground but also capture the details of that beautiful mountain range, lake, or building they are standing in front of. To accomplish this it is best to use a higher f-stop value such as f8, f11, f14 or higher. It is important to remember when using higher f-stop values that less light is hitting the sensor and the camera will lower the shutter speed and increase the ISO values to compensate for this. This is generally OK as many cameras will not let the shutter speed dip too low. or the let the ISO go beyond its practical limits. 

As with all photographs, first ask yourself what the desired outcome or intent is. If the intent is to capture a portrait or isolate a subject from its background consider using a low aperture value.. If the intent is to get the background in focus, also use higher f-stop values. If the intent is to freeze action consider using in Shutter Priority mode. More on that in the next blog. 

Like all things, the best way to understand these concepts is to practice.

Ping me if you have any questions.

If you enjoyed this post a like and a share would be super appreciated!

Best,

JG

Check out some of my recent fine art images here: www.johnguillaume.com 

Find me on Instagram @john_guillaume



 

Print Your Photographs for FREE - Here's How

Printing is easier than ever. You have the option of utilizing dozens of different online print lab services or print on your own at home on an inkjet printer. Either way, we are lucky to have so many choices. 

Why print photos when in this digital age it is so easy to share our photos on our favorite social media? Well, nothing beats being able to actually touch and hold a photograph or a photo book. We have all gone through our childhood photographs - maybe they are in a shoebox or an album - and have experienced the joy of those memories. My kids will often pull a photobook off of the shelf and flip through the pages with big smiles on their faces. 

While digital formats are awesome for sharing and storing they also run the risk of digital failure or obsolescence. What if iCloud, Google Drive, or DropBox has a failure and accidentally deletes your pictures? Do you have a backup? In 20-years will the jpeg format (the standard file format for 99% of pictures) still be readable by the latest gadgets? There is a potential risk in digital archiving albeit small but they are real. Printing your most important memories is a safe and easy backup. 

While I was exploring a related business idea, I discovered a handful of interesting and convenient options for printing.  The two services worthy of highlighting are Shutterfly and Chatbooks. Both of these applications run on Google Android or Apple iOS. 

My FREE 4x4" Photographs from Shutterfly - ©johnguillaume

First,  Shutterfly, through its mobile application (only), offers free, unlimited 4x6 and 4x4 prints. Not bad, right! The application is easy to use. Simply download the app, create an account, and give the application access to your photos. Then you can easily select which ones you would like to have printed. Your prints will arrive within a week. It's that easy. There is a shipping fee but the net price of each photo is very low, depending on how many you order at a time. Shutterfly's print and photo paper quality are just OK. The paper is a tad thin and the colors are lacking pop. Overall, I would give the Shutterfly app an A for value,  a B for convenience, and a C for print quality. 

Second,  Chatbooks, is a very cool and super convenient way to get your best memories printed in book form. After you've downloaded the application, you'll give it permission to access your photos, Instagram, Snapchat, and/or Facebook accounts. Here is the slick part; for approximately $10/month, each time you post 60 pictures, it automatically generates a small, square book that is mailed to you. It also has the option of including your quotes from the various social media platforms, which is great in my opinion. Like Shutterfly, the image quality isn't great but acceptable. The paper is a soft touch, waxy feel and delivers a softer look compared to traditional photo paper. Chatbooks gets an 'A' for convenience and a 'C' for print quality. For most folks, I would guess that the print quality is good enough.  If you're interested in high-quality photo books, I recommend Blurb (www.blurb.com). Be sure to look for Blurb deals because they often run promotions. 

My Chatbooks - ©johnguillaume

Chatbooks - ©johnguillaume

So which is for you? If you prefer single prints, Shutterfly is an economical way to go with decent quality prints. If you prefer the booklet format, Chatbooks is super easy to use and delivers similar quality. 

If you value higher quality prints, I recommend printing them on an inkjet printer at home or using a better photo lab such as Mpix. On Mpix, 4x6 and 4x4 prints will cost as little as $.24 plus shipping but the print and paper quality are a bit better and, in my experience, worth the extra money. Mpix does not have a convenient mobile app so a little extra effort is required to get them uploaded to their site. 

Regardless of which you choose, consider printing those memories for keepsakes, photo albums, or framing. You and your family will get years of enjoyment out of them. 

As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments.  

If you enjoyed this post, please take a few seconds to like and share with your friends and family. 

Don't forget to subscribe to always stay up to date on my posts, new images, and exclusive deals. 

Best,
John 

Landscape Photography - You Don’t always Need Epic Locations for great images

I recently captured this image - ‘Row of Trees’ - last week, during the last Nor’easter we experienced on the East coast. Despite the epic snowfall, capturing this image was not quite as epic. This location is only 15 minutes from my house. The most difficult part of getting this shot was driving there on the snow and slush covered roads.

 A Row of Trees - ©John Guillaume - f11, 1/125 sec, ISO 160

A Row of Trees - ©John Guillaume - f11, 1/125 sec, ISO 160

While not technically challenging to shoot, capturing this shot did require some foresight and planning. I envisioned this very image over a year ago but needed weather conditions to cooperate. Using a long lens was necessary to get the shot without trespassing. The snow effectively simplified the scene by eliminating distracting elements. 

I wrote about  seeing things differently as a photographer in the Four Reasons I Love Photography Post. I would have never noticed the intimate beauty of this scene if I did not take the time to notice my surroundings.

Key take aways:

1. You don’t need to be in an epic location to find great images.  

2. Keep your eyes open and imagine compositions that may be hidden by other distractions.

Thanks for reading and please use the comments section to ask questions or share your thoughts.

A like and a share are always appreciated. 

Best, 

JG

 

 

Four Reasons I Love Photography

1. Photography Creates Lasting Memories 

We all take a lot of pictures these days.  Capturing those fleeting moments and recalling them on Facebook or in a photo album is priceless. Sometimes I catch the kids grabbing a photo album off of the shelf and turning the pages with a smile on their face...priceless!  

Garden of The Gods, Colorado Springs, CO ©John Guillaume

2. Photography Gets Me Outside

I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors and my camera gives me another reason to do so. Sometimes, I’ll go explore a new location in hopes of getting that next portfolio image. Even if I don't get that killer image, the experience of getting outside is always worth it. Other times, I’ll bring my camera along for a hike, trail run, or bike ride - Yes, I often will run or ride with my camera!  You just never know what may catch you eye. 

Beach Patrol - Stone Harbor, NJ - ©John Guillaume

3. Photography Makes Me Look at Everything Differently

I notice details around me that I would not otherwise see. Such as the subtle details of a building's architecture, the shape of the clouds, how the light hits the hillside, the long shadows of dusk and dawn, the catch light in someone’s eye, the leading lines created by a street or fence line, or the rich colors experienced during a morning walk. Photography has even shaped my thinking about business - how do I keep the message clear and simple?

One Cloud One Wave - Stone Harbor, NJ ©John Guillaume 

4. I Love the Creative Process

Taking the picture is the just the beginning. The editing process is just as fulfilling for me. Getting the images off of my camera and into Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop [or your favorite editing tools] is the next step in the process to make an image come to life. Editing cannot make up for a bad image but post-processing absolutely makes a great photograph better. The best part...there aren't any rules! 

What do you enjoy most about photography? Let me know in the comments, below. 

Have a great day! 

John 

PS - If you are enjoying this blog, please take a moment to share with others :-)

www.johnguillaume.com

Speedster - ©John Guillaume

Learn Your Camera - Watch this Video

Your camera is simply an instrument to take pictures. Knowing your instrument will eliminate the mechanical nature of photography and free you up to more easily capture something special whether it be a family moment or something more artistic. Like all things, the best way to learn the subtleties of your camera settings is to practice. 

There are three important functions you will want to learn: 

Perfect Stream - Olympic National Park ©John Guillaume 

1/60 sec, f7.1, ISO 64 - Shot on a tripod 

  1. Shutter Speed - Determines how fast the shutter opens and closes 
  2. Aperture - Changes the size of the opening to your camera's sensor
  3. ISO - Impacts your camera's sensitivity to light 

Once you understand each of these and how they interact with each other, you will be able to focus on more important aspects of photography such as composition and light.  

The video below, by Tony Northrup, does a good job of explaining how each of these impacts the outcome of your image. After watching this, practice and experience what you've learned. Take a picture of your son or daughter outdoors using a low Aperture (f2.8-f4) and then a high Aperture value (f16-f22)...notice the difference in the background and the ISO? Have her run slowly towards you with a high (1/1000th) and low shutter (1/100th) speed and notice how it impacts the sharpness of the subject.  

Valley Forge National Park - ©John Guillaume 

1/500th, f4.5, ISO 100 - Shot handheld

When I was learning these functions I simply took pictures of anyone and anything. Through trial and error, you will begin to appreciate how they work and then be able to use them to your advantage to get the shot you wanted.

Let me know if you have any questions. 

Best,

John

www.johnguillaume.com

It's a Blizzard Here! - Quick Tip - Photographing Snow

Snow can dramatically change the look of any neighborhood, city, or landscape.  However, your photographs can often disappoint because your camera can make the white, fluffy stuff look flat, dull and grey :-( 

YOu need to overexpose your images because your camera will automatically underexpose the scene because of the brightness value of the snow.  

Here are two ways to do it:   

  1. EDIT YOUR PICTURE after you've taken it by increasing your 'white' or 'brightness' slider and add a bit of 'contrast' as well. Adjust these to your taste. 
  2. INCREASE YOUR EXPOSURE BY USING EXPOSURE COMPENSATION before you click the shutter button - I covered how to do this on your iPhone HERE.  Many DSLRs have a dedicated dial, as well.  Bump your exposure up by 1-2 stops and viola...your snowy photograph just a got a little better.  

iPhone Photo - Original 

 iPhone Photo - Quickly Edited for Snow 

iPhone Photo - Quickly Edited for Snow 

For those of you getting hit by this nor'easter, winter storm Quinn, stay safe and warm and get outside and take some pics! 

JG