Monopods can Make Music

Waterfalls

So often, photos that inspire you are ones taken from new angles, or from angles that you can’t normally get to, or think to get to.  Monopods are great tools in this regard…you can extend a monopod up over your head for more of an aerial perspective, or even turn it upside down to get an angle that might be otherwise pretty awkward or uncomfortable to get into just to get a unique shot.  I love my monopod!

While the good money will always add features and functions that don’t exist on lower end models, I do think that even the most basic of monopods can be useful – to the degree that even going with a Wal-mart brand or generic named vendor can be a sound investment.  If you are talking about just getting to a place you can’t get to on your own (or even with a tripod), the difference between aluminum and carbon fiber on a monopod doesn’t have as much impact here in my opinion.

Now if you are going for the stability factor, yes, a sturdier monopod would likely yield better results, but how much better do you expect from a single-legged support mechanism?  Seriously – even with your own two feet, you can get pretty steady with your shots if you use a good holding technique, tucking your arms in, leaning on a wall or tree, and going between breaths (or shooting between heartbeats as my former Drill Sergeant said in the Army.)  How is one foot going to get you more stability than two feet?  On it’s own, not much, so I don’t sweat much over the vendor here…

Check out these aerial and low angle shots I got with just a Wal-mart tripod and some creative thinking:

Tail Lights

This shot was taken with my monopod and the camera braced against a streetlight.  EXIF Data:  ISO 800 22mm f/22 4 second exposure

Waterfalls

I shot this waterfall with the camera upsidedown and me holding the foot of my monopod while the camera was as close as I felt comfortable putting it close to the base of the waterfall.  EXIF Data:  ISO 100 21mm f/11 2.5 second exposure

Boats at Sunset

This serene harbor was shot with the monopod, and the camera braced up against a tack shop.  EXIF data:  ISO 100 18mm f/11 5 second exposure

Downtown Denver

The Denver Art Museum, shot near midnight.  The camera again, was upside down (I rotated it in post), and I held the foot of the monopod to get this low view.  EXIF Data:  ISO 100 33mm f/8 8 second exposure (it’s a tad blurry when you zoom in…)

Denver Photo Walk

This was done when I was shooting with my good friend Tim Tonge as we scouted routes for a photo walk.  I liked this one so much it made it’s way into my eBook as a photo tip.  Again, camera against the ground, upside down, me holding the foot.  EXIF Data:  ISO 800 10mm f/8 1/125th Exposure (note the exposure time here – I could have hand held this, but not at as low an angle as this was..the monopod made the shot!)

The Reward

Here, the monopod was collapsed all the way down to one extension so the camera was just above my beer.  The monopod itself was braced against the table, and I nudged the beer and coaster in until I got this composition.  EXIF Data:  ISO 800 20mm f/2.8 1/30th of a second exposure time

*****

Have you tried a monopod?  The results may surprise you!

Shadows

Boat Mast in Shadows

Most of the time the subject of the a photo is easy to see – whether it’s a portrait, landscape, travel, or architecture. While these subjects are easy to identify, the use of shadows in these topics is not discussed as often as it should be.  We spend so much time trying to get the lit portion of our images in focus, composed to our satisfaction, making sure things are sharp, and all the rest, we sometimes miss the value of shadows in our imagery.

Boat Mast in Shadows

The shadows of an image can be just as important to the composition as the lit parts are.  When talking about how to light images with strobes and studio lights, the use of shadows to give definition is often discussed, but the same discussions can be germane to naturally lit photos too.  Remember, the word photography means to paint with light (photo and graphos), so even the absence of light can be significant in defining our images.

Subtle Portrait Shadows

Whether you shoot portraiture, architecture, landscapes, or even abstracts, shadows can and do play a role in how you compose your images.  Do you look at the shadows in your images?  What story do shadows tell in your work?

Abstract Shadows

Shadowed Helicopter

Favorite Black and White Conversion Methods

As you can tell from the header adjustments, a new eBook is coming out in a few weeks, and I would like to devote a bit of it to some user generated thoughts, so now’s your chance – tell me, what are your favorite methods for black and white conversion methods on your images?

Personally, I have a few presets in Lightroom and a few templates in Photoshop that I use regularly to make some default black and white conversion adjustments, then I do a bit of manual massaging and tweaking depending on the photo itself.  In the upcoming eBook, I am going to cover these black and white conversion methods in detail, and even share a few of my own favorite presets as well.  All that said, I would very much like to hear your thoughts and methods that you use.

Here’s a few options to kick start the thoughts in the comments section:

  1. In Camera (changing your camera settings)
  2. In Photoshop via Channel Mixer
  3. In Photoshop (or Lightroom) via Hue/Saturation adjustments
  4. In Photoshop (or Lightroom) via canned templates or pre-sets.
  5. A combination of canned settings and manual adjustments.

You’ll get much more detail in the upcoming eBook, so if you are interested in learning any of the above techniques, don’t forget to pre-register for it at half off the regular price.  This one is gonna be a doozy of an eBook, and there’s only two weeks left!  If you want to get the announcement when the eBook comes out, subscribe from the link below

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Or…if you want to get it at half off the regular retail price, sign up for the pre-release price and you’ll get the eBook the day before launch!