BY: MATT TETRAULT
The Perseid meteor shower made its annual appearance this August. Each year, the Earth passes through the orbit of the Swift Tuttle comet and is showered with debris causing the night sky to light up with as many as 60 shooting stars per hour. For this year's shower, I decided to try my hand at astrophotography and learned a few quick tips for shooting a meteor shower.
1. Pick the right spot. Bad news city dwellers - while all those lovely city lights are great for photographing cityscapes, they'll obscure any meteors you might see during a meteor shower. Ideally, you'll want to be as far away from any town or city as possible. The darker the area, the better the photos. If possible, your spot should have an interesting foreground element or scenic backdrop you can add to your photos.
2. Grab the right gear. Because you'll be dealing with long exposures, a tripod, DSLR and cable release are absolutely essential to getting great meteor photos. Bringing a wide, fast lens is also important - you don't know where in the night sky a meteor might suddenly appear, so the wider your angle of coverage, the better. And, since you'll ideally be hiking somewhere dark and isolated, a good headlamp is extremely helpful. If possible, get a LED headlamp with a red light setting since red light won't effect your night vision.
3. Choose the right camera settings. Because meteors can be so brief and sudden, it's important to set your camera settings accordingly. After some trial and error, I found that an ISO of around 400, and an aperture of about f4 gave me a good balance between minimizing the amount of noise in my image and having a shutter speed quick enough to catch a meteor.
4. Shoot often, carry multiple memory cards and be extremely patient. I quickly discovered that my eyesight and reflexes were nowhere near fast enough to allow me to trigger my shutter as soon as I saw a meteor. I resorted to continually shooting through the night and (about 200 pictures later) was eventually lucky enough to come away with an image I liked.
BY: BYRON EHLERS
Recently I find myself fixated on the idea of the big picture. Not in the sense of just a REALLY large photograph, but more so the information involved. As photographers, we easily find ourselves focusing on the details of a subject and overlooking the surroundings or background that can make an image stand apart. Zoom lenses give us a huge range of options when we photograph, but all too often we use them to crop out information that, although isn’t as important as our subject, creates setting and depth. This fixation on a subject can begin to create images that feel repetitive or formulaic, as if nothing sets your newest images apart from the first ones you took. I had a professor in college who used to tell us we were thinking too small with our photography. That an image can be as deep and complex visually as we want it to be, so why simplify so much? The longer a viewer spends on your image, the better. I never really understood what she meant until recently when I photographed the interior of a Cathedral in upstate New York. Although I had been photographing in places of worship for several years now, for the first time as I began to review and edit my images, I felt there was something different. I wasn’t just photographing items in a church - the altar, the organ or the baptismal font. It was a much larger picture.
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BY: RACHEL EISLEY
At our most recent Remember Forever DC Portraits class, I decided to approach a group of friendly-looking construction guys who were diligently working on repaving a nearby road. It turned out that right when I inquired if they would model for our portraits class, they had an equipment issue so they had nothing to do for the last 30 minutes of their work shift - until they agreed to model for us! In order to get natural and relaxed photographs of people who aren't as comfortable posing for portraits, we put our subjects at ease by talking and joking with them. Through our casual conversation, we learned that the group was all related! They were 2 father and son teams, and the fathers were also brothers so the sons were cousins! We had a great time getting to know them, and they patiently posed for us amidst their equipment of the trade - trucks, tools and orange traffic cones - which created the perfect series of environmental portraits. We framed our subjects clearly with our compositions focused on their faces and bodies, while showing the details of their profession framing each photo. We shot with a low ISO (100), medium F-Stop (F 8.0) and a mid-range shutter speed (around 1/100th of a second.)
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