Be Original


Hello all, I’ve been quiet for a while here, for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, I’ve been busy as life has been pushing me in new directions.  My move to Ohio, the new job, and other factors have led to me using my camera less and less.

I want to remain true to the idea behind the blog, which is that as I learn and create new content, I strive to share that education and content here. The danger is regurgitation of others ideas. You start to lose your identity when you try to use the creative works of others to identify yourself.

You may ask why I am choosing now to write and publish this post. The reason is a new ad from Apple:

This is NOT an Apple piece of copy.  They have shamelessly ripped content from another creative and are (I think) trying to pass the idea off as their own.  This was from a movie in the 80s called The Dead Poet’s Society. It starred Robin Williams as a prep school English lit teacher, John Keating, and his character said these words to his students.  The verbiage is fantastic…in context.  But they’ve not even done that – the timing and delivery has been edited down to fit in the more convenient 90 second segment, which I find abhorrent!  That move was meant to inspire people to be original, and to stay true to who they really are – not to sell technology products being made by children in China.

In my own personal opinion, Apple has completely changed the timbre of the message.  They are trying to say that to be unique and creative, you need to use their products to create your own verse – and this is not true!

I am publishing this today, because I suspect that many creative out there are now in a younger generation, and may not have even heard of Dead Poet’s Society.  If you want to be a creative, you simply must rent this from Netflix, YouTube, or where ever, and watch it.  Amazing movie, and I hate seeing Apple desecrate it like this.  Let’s at least give credit where credit is due!

As a final note – if you really want to be inspired, check out some of the photography and videography that comes from this movie!  There are some scenes that really have planted themselves in my mind since I first saw it, including:

1. The bagpiper on the lake.


2.  The cloaked figures running through the trees in a foggy wood


3.  The birds taking flight

birdsAny memorable scenes others have that they’d like to share?  Thoughts on being original versus borrowing from others?  Would love to hear what others think on this subject too!

How To Hold Your Phone Camera

The Double L

How you hold your camera is so important, yet so many of us take our camera grip for granted, assuming that we will naturally hold it in the most stable way available.  For some, it does come naturally, but for most of us, bad habits can take root before we even know it.  To that end, there’s a couple pointers I’ve put together on How To Hold Your SLR and How To Hold Your P&S.  To wrap things up, today I’d like to share a couple tips on How To Hold Your Phone Camera.

Video seems to work for demonstration purposes, so again, YouTube to the rescue:

The takeaways from the video?  Three simple ones:

1.  Finger Curl – curl your middle fingers around the front lower side of your camera phone – this will add stability and will help subconsciously you to keep your armed tucked in

The Double L

2.  Arm Tuck – Since I just mentioned it, avoid sticking your arms out – either to the side or in front of you.  Extended your arms reduces stability and tends more toward camera shake.  Keep your arms tucked in, elbows into your tummy by your waist.

3.  Double L – Make an L with both hands and cradle your camera phone into the corner of each hand.  Position the phone so that your camera lens is on the topside.  That way, your thumb (either left or right depending on phone model) will be at the ready for the trigger on the edge of your phone (don’t use the on-screen one).

As always, there is no hard and fast set of rules to follow – using these techniques will not guarantee a stable shot.  If you watch the video – notice even as I demonstrated, the camera shifted slightly even in my grip.  The best way to hold any camera is not with your hands but with a tripod!

How NOT to Hold Your Camera

Don't EVER hold like this!

There are options out there for phone cameras now too – I like this one:

Got your own tips, ideas, or suggestions for hand holding a camera phone?  What works for you?  Do you use a tripod or a monopod?  What gear would you recommend?

How to Hold A Camera – The SLR

Hands in Wrong Position

A while back I was up at Maroon Bells i Colorado, anticipating the peak of the fall colors.  The lake there at the base of the Maroon Bells has become quite an idyllic scene for photographers of all levels to aspire to, so I was not alone when I was there.  Quite the contrary, the place was loaded with literally hundreds of photographers, bot from Colorado and even from places as far away as St. Louis (from those I talked to anyway).

Pano From Maroon Lake

One of the things that struck me was that from all the expensive gear out there, I saw many many people holding their cameras for shots in a manner that suggested they knew more about the gear than about taking and making pictures.  What do I mean?  Simple. You can know all about the technical aspects of gear and learn what the maximum ISO settings are, frame rates, crop sensors, and all that techno-jargon pretty easily.  All it takes is an internet connection and some time to memorize the numbers.  But what you can’t learn online is good photography techniques.

So, how do you hold a camera?  Excellent question!  This has been covered by many in the blogosphere, and inevitably, someone will likely say refer to Joe McNally’s “The grip” video.  In this video, he talks about shooting hand held at slower shutter speeds, and introduces a grip technique for left-eyed shooters:

It’s got some great pointers in there, but many can get distracted by the “low light shooting” and the “left-eye shooters” concepts.  Rest assured, there are elements of this whole approach that are universally applicable.  Here’s some simple pointers:

1.  Keep your arms tucked in – letting your arms go outside past your core body introduces instability…never a good thing when hand-holding.

Wrong Camera Technique

Right Camera Technique

2.  Unfortunately for left-handed shooters, the camera vendors have designed cameras with the grip on the right side.  This is the part where your fingers curl around the camera body, so just make sure your right hand is curled there.  Most everyone gets this right…the part where there is a lot of variation is the left hand!

3.  Keep your left hand under the camera and resting on the lens.  Resist the urge to bring that left hand out to the side to turn the dial for zooming…you can do it with your hand on the bottom, and this way, you are providing more stability to the camera.  The other upside is that by keeping that left hand under, you are also keeping your arms tucked in!

Hands Positioned Correctly

Hands in Wrong Position

4.  Stop using the LCD/Live Preview.  I know, we all like a big screen and the bigger the better to see your shots…but so many people are migrating to using the live preview (especially when the camera has that articulating screen), and it’s introducing bad techniques.  When you use the LCD screen – what happens?  Your face goes back or your arms go out, and the camera becomes unstable.  Keep using the viewfinder for as long as the vendors keep it on the camera!  Keep your face planted up against that camera body…it helps with that whole stability thing!

LCD Used Wrong

Using the Viewfinder

A great way to test this is to take a shot using good technique and an identical shot using..well, a not-so-good technique.  Compare the results and see what produces better results!  Of course, some will likely chime in and ask “What if I don’t have an SLR?”  That’s a great point, so if that describes you – make sure you come back later this week when I talk about how to hold a point-and-shoot camera!

Or, you can hop over to YouTube and view the videos here:

and here (for the smart phone technique):