Category Archives: Photography

Sitting in Central Park

While on an Arcanum photowalk a couple months back, we started and ended our journey in Central Park.

As we’re about to leave the park I noticed this guy sitting perfectly on the rocks, minding his business.

So of course I had to photograph him.

Reading Zone
Portraits don’t need to show a face to tell a story.

Look at the man. Ask yourself what he is reading. Why is he wearing such dark clothes? Why is he reading in that spot? Aren’t those rocks hard to sit on?

It was a cold day in NYC, so I also wonder why he decided to sit still and read outdoors on such a cold day.

I know I was bundled up.

 

NYC From Above The Train Cars

The High Line is a special place to many New Yorkers.  It’s now also a tourist trap for outsiders. I’ve done many photowalks on The High Line, so it gets quite old, fast.

However, this past October I was on a photowalk following a day at PhotoPlus Expo, and it was my first time on this part of The High Line.
New York City

“What a view, and one that isn’t often seen from above.”

That is what was going through my head when I captured the photo on my Nikon D810.  I knew ahead of time I wanted a high contrast, simple toned monochrome photograph.

So when I got home and processed it in Lightroom that’s exactly what I did. No special software was needed for this image.  It was simply a matter of taking my time with sliders inside of Lightroom and adjusting the tones within the black and white processing.

I am so pleased with how it came out in the end.

 

NYC, Birds, Kids & Rick Sammon

A couple of months ago I was in New York City for an Arcanum photowalk. It was a great time and I got to meet another one of my apprentices, apprentices from other cohorts and other masters.

We walked through a part of Central Park and eventually made our way to the spot you see here.

Feeding Time

There were a bunch of kids playing around, sitting and talking and a crowd of people watching something going on. It was not in English, so I couldn’t really follow the discussion.

You would think that the kids would be the point of focus for this photo, but really it’s the birds. The iconic birds of New York City.

But also in the background you can see Rick Sammon, a Canon photographer and a master at The Arcanum.

Rick and his wife spent the afternoon walking with us and Rick even gave a random person a camera lesson so she could make a group photo of us.

Good times were had.

I’m ready for the next Arcanum photowalk now!

WE35 Field Report: Layla’s First Month

This article has two pieces of news to share with the community.  The first is that I have been taking part of a fun project with a group of friends, called WE35.  It’s a sort of photography research project where we are gathering thoughts and photos all made at the same focal point, 35mm.  My first report was my Faces in 35 project.

The second bit of news is that my daughter, Layla, was born on January 13th.  She’s tiny, beautiful and has brought so much happiness to my family’s lives.

The reason I am mentioning both news items together is because of February’s field report for WE35.  The theme for the month was to capture 36 frames as if we were photographing on film, rather than digital.

WE35_Feb_2015

I had to cheat a little on this month’s project because Layla is not supposed to leave the house for 8 weeks (doctor’s orders) unless she is going for a walk around the block or to the doctor.

So the 36 frames I made are from the day she was born through her first month. They are all processed in black and white using Mastin Lab’s HP5 Lightroom preset.  I then tweaked each photograph individually for that dynamic fine art vibe.

For the most part, each of the photographs was also made at 1600 ISO, except for the outdoors photos because of the super bright snow.  (I did say I cheated a little)

February’s WE35 submissions were to be sent as a contact sheet, which is what you see above. Because that makes the photographs sideways in some cases, and tiny in all cases, I decided to share some of my favorites as well.

Click on the thumbnails to view them larger.

Scott-Wyden-Kivowitz_020815_WE35 Scott-Wyden-Kivowitz_020815_WE35-3 Scott-Wyden-Kivowitz_020815_WE35-2 Scott-Wyden-Kivowitz_020515_WE35 Scott-Wyden-Kivowitz_020415_WE35 Scott-Wyden-Kivowitz_020415_WE35-2 Scott-Wyden-Kivowitz_011315_WE35 Scott-Wyden-Kivowitz_011315_WE35-2

Thank you for checking them out.

Perfect Panoramic Stitching With No Parallax Using A Nodal Slide

Panoramic stitching can produce artifacts and ghosting by default without any adjustments to the panning point of the tripod.

If fact, the way to achieve perfect panoramic stitching is to make sure that the lens is centered over the panning point of the tripod. The point of the lens that removes the parallax effect is called the entrance pupil or nodal point.

To achieve perfect panoramic stitching, I recommend using a nodal slide.

panoramic-stitching-nodal-slide

Nodal slides come in various forms.  On some, the camera mounting point is fixed so you must adjust the entire nodal slide to the appropriate point.  These types are typically useful when all of your lenses are a general size, like all prime lenses up to 85mm.

Other nodal slides can slide the camera mount in addition to the slide itself.  That has more flexibility to cover a wider range of lenses.  My nodal slide of choice is the middle one you see above, from Really Right Stuff.  This nodal slide has the sliding camera plate as well as a turnable plate so I can use it with collared lenses as well. For example, the 70-200 lens.  Anything bigger than a 70-200 and I would have to use a longer nodal slide.

panoramic-photography-ebook-go-widerIn my eBook, Go Wider with Panoramic Photography, I walk through the process of finding the nodal point.  But I think it’s worth briefly covering it here so  I am sharing a video of the process so you can see exactly how I do it.

Here is what I recommend for finding your nodal points:

  • Tripod with a panning ability
  • A way to level the camera perfectly (i.e., bubble level, levelling plate)
  • Nodal slide
  • Yardstick
  • Two identical objects

The video below was recorded for The Arcanum, but I wanted to also make it available for my blog readers to see, along with this article.

It’s a quick overview of how to make a parallax free panoramic photograph.  For more on panoramas, please pick up my eBook, Go Wider with Panoramic Photography.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse

If you haven’t been to Acadia National Park then you likely never thought about Bass Harbor Lighthouse before.  But if you ever plan on going on to Acadia then prepare for an interesting experience.

The lighthouse parking lot is extremely tiny for the amount of tourists they have visiting non-stop every day.

Our group (in two cars) arrived at the lighthouse about an hour and a half before sunset.  We made our way through the narrow path in towards the cliffs along the water.

bass-harbor-lighthouse-maine

When we made it to the rocks, we realized we would not be alone.  In fact, we would be far from it. There were well over 50 photographers, most with tripods, all lined up ready for the sun to fall below the horizon.

Most of our group decided to get in line, but some went into different directions.

  • I decided to get in front of everyone, on a lower rock, so I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way.  I wound up using my 20mm wide-angle lens so I would still have a big view of the scene.  I wanted to do a long exposure, catching the lighthouse, sky, water and rocks all in the frame.  The 20mm was the perfect choice.
  • Chris decided to climb the rocks to get under the lighthouse.  He then turned and photographed all of us standing there way behind.
  • Justin decided to walk behind the lighthouse and through some of the woods to get the trees and surrounding areas.
  • I believe Armando also went in a different direction, but I can’t say for sure.

Once the sun went down we left and got some dinner and drinks.  It was a great sunset, even with the clueless people getting in everyone’s way (and not caring).

But be warned… if you go to Bass Harbor Lighthouse, you won’t be alone.

Thunder Hole

Today I wanted to share a second photograph from Thunder Hole.

The first was a cool toned long exposure, which is happily hung on a client’s wall.

But this photograph is perfect for narrow walls, or hallways.

It’s also a warmer tone which works with colorful rooms.

thunder-hole-sunrise

It is hard to pick out my favorite locations in Acadia National Park, but it definitely comes down to Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff.  Oddly enough, they’re very close to each other.

If you are a fan of seascapes and warmer photographs then consider this one for your wall.  Get in touch or visit my places gallery to order a print.

Acadia Zen

This zen-like rock formation sits at Otter Cliff, among many others.  After I was done photographing the beautiful seascape I decided to spend some time walking the slippery rocks to photograph the formations.

acadia-zen-rock

I did not touch any of them, although I’m assuming no one would have really cared.

As it turns out, Acadia National Park is full of rock formations, made by visitors.

Two of us from the Acadia trip included rock formation photographs in our book.

One of the coolest parts about photography is being able to photograph the same scene as other photographers, and having the end results look so different.

That’s due to many factors of course.

  • The photographers eye
  • Angle
  • Shutter speed
  • Aperture
  • Lens focal length
  • Time of day photographed
  • Camera sensor size
  • Megapixels

I’m sure there are other factors, but those are the first which come to mind.

I mentioned before that Otter Cliff was one of my favorite locations in Acadia National Park.  The zen rocks added to that statement. When I caught the rocks at the corner of my eye, while photographing the seascape, I immediately felt relaxed and the emotion of comfort and safety.

It’s amazing what simple objects, like rocks and water, can do to your mental health.

How Photographers Can Slow Down

How Photographers Can Slow Down

In 2014 I started mentoring other photographers in The Arcanum.  Part of the process is critiquing many photographs, and the critiques are done via Google Hangouts, recorded and made available for all Arcanum members to view.

During one of the critiques an apprentice asked me about how she could slow down more.  I broke into a rant, and then decided to record a separate video specifically about it.

So with that, check out the video here:

To recap, here are my recommended easy tricks to slow yourself down while making photographs.

  • Start using manual focus with your lens, instead of auto focus.
  • Start changing the aperture of your lens how you want
  • Start changing your camera’s shutter speed yourself
  • Pick your own ISO
  • Change your white balance when you change lighting conditions
  • Use a smaller memory card

By taking this advice, and implementing it, you will find yourself making better photographs.

Keep doing it, and have fun doing it.

Otter Cliff

One of the stops on the Acadia National Park trip was to Otter Cliffs.

Len and Bob, who have been there before, warned us that the rocks get very slippery.  So I decided to wear my heavy-duty boots.  In addition to intense treads, they’re also waterproof (up to a point).

Otter Cliff

I’m glad I went with those boots.  During the changing sun, the tide got higher and higher.  In fact, some of the guys had wet feet afterwords.

For this site I went with long exposures because I knew the waves were getting bigger with each other minute.

The exposure was long enough to force the water to fog up near the rocks, but also show movement further out.  The light bouncing off the rocks and cliffs were warm and golden.

This is a beautiful scene also visible from a distance at Thunder Hole.

If we had more time I would have loved to spend another hour here, but we had a fairly tight schedule with so many spots to visit and photograph.

But this photo is up there with my favorites from the trip.