Italy Travel Photography

Costa Rica Workshop: Day 1 Images

It's day 1 of the workshop that I am co-leading here in Costa Rica with my friend Rob Knight, who runs Digital Photo Adventures. The participates are all getting great shots! Here are a few of mine, along with some tips.

• Please the main subject off center.
• Frame the subject with a foreground element.
• Crop for creative composition.
• Expose for the highlights.

• Shoot at a wide aperture to blur the background - which makes your subject stand out in the frame.
• Look for catch light in the subject's eye.
• Watch the background - it can make or break a shot.

• Do what master painters do to draw attention to the subject: darken the edges of the frame.

• Focus on the eye.
• Blur a foreground element to add a realistic look to your picture.

• Shoot HDR in high-contrast situations.
• Have fun with fish-eye lenses.

I created the above image with Photomatix. You can save 15% when you order Photomatix by using this code: ricksammon.

More image to come. Thank you for tuning in.

For all my workshops, click here.

Explore the light,

Thrusday's Travel Log: Ice Hotel, Quebec City, Canada

This is Part I in a new series I'm starting here on my blog: Thursday's Travel Log.

Destination: Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace), Quebec City, Canada

Photo Tips:

• Photographing during the day and night.
• Bring your tripod for nighttime and indoor photography.
• Be prepared to shoot HDR - as the contrast range can be wide. Use HDR Efex Pro or Photomatix to Process your pictures. Get a discount on both HDR program on the Creative Plug-ins page of my blog.
• Bring your wide-angle lenses - the wider the better. The rooms are relatively small.
• Try to avoid harsh reflections on the ice.
• Keep extra batteries in warm in your jacket.
• Pack a polarizing filter to reduce reflections and to darken the blue sky and whiten the white clouds.

Here's the polarizing filter I use:
Hoya 77mm Circular Polarizer HD Hardened Glass 8-layer Multi-Coated Filter

Travel Tips:

• Call in advance to make sure the ice hotel is not a puddle. It's usually open between January 6th and March 25th. That's when it's cold enough to keep the ice from melting.
• Yes, you can sleep in the hotel, but you'll be much more comfortable in the nearby lodge.
• Have happy hour in the ice bar. Very cool, indeed.
• Dress warmly and pack good gloves. I use these gloves:
Lowepro - Gloves - black - Lycra, Thermax Large
• Good hiking boots will help keep you from slipping and sliding.

If you like travel photography, check out my workshops:
USA Workhops
International Workshops.

Explore the light,

P.S. I was supposed to sleep in the Ice Hotel. However, when I saw the look on the faces of the guests who had spent the night on the ice beds, I decided to keep cozy in the lodge.

Just Released: Rick Sammon's HDR Portfolio iPad App - A great way to master HDR photography.

My latest how-to iPad app - Rick Sammon's HDR Portfolio - is here!

And speaking of "here," the "Battle of the HDR Photo Tips, Ratcliff vs. Sammon," starts here on my blog, as well as on Trey Ratcliff's site, any day now. Join us ringside for the HDR photo fun.

Developed my Dr. Dave Wilson, who also developed my iPhone and iPad apps, Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet, the interactive app features solid how-to information (tips, tricks and techniques) and more 300 images, including 30 of my latest HDR images. Several movies, including a clip me shooting an HDR sequence, are also included.

What's more, the app offers one of the coolest features I have seen when it comes to teaching and illustrating HDR: HDR Dissolve™.

To activate HDR Dissolve™ Simply touch the photo to see it magically transform into the final HDR image. Normal images dissolve into great HDR images - just by touching them! In some cases, a set of three original photos are provided, followed by one or more processed HDR images. Nice work Dr. Dave!

The app is divided into four major sections, making it easy to access the photographs and how-to information.

• Introduction – Dr. Dave and I cover the basics of HDR image making. Photographs, text and movies are provided for fast learning.

• Inside – Learn how to shoot in extreme contrast situations, and learn how to see the light and exposure for the dynamic range of a scene.

 • Outside – Travel with me around the world and see how he captures cityscapes, landscapes, and interior scenes, during the day and at night.

 • Nature – Learn how to capture the beauty of nature without being limited by the existing lighting conditions.  

This is not an app to process or take pictures. Please do not buy this app to edit your photos – it doesn’t so that! It is an educational app for digital SLR and compact camera photographers.

For each HDR image, I provides the location, number of exposures, processing program used, and tips about HDR and/or standard photography. EXIF camera and exposure info is also included for many images. A quick e-mail feature lets you share any image with family and friends.

Size: This app contains more than 100 MB of movies and photos. It’s self-contained, so you don’t need an Internet connection to use it.

To order the app and start the HDR learning and fun, click here.

$ave a Few Buck$: If you are new to HDR image-making and need an HDR plug-in (Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro) or program (HDR's Photomatix), click here to get the program/plug-in . . . and a discount (if you use the appropriate discount codes). While you are there, check out Topaz Adjust, which also helps expand the dynamic range of an image.

To see all my apps, click here.

Explore the light,

P.S. If you don't have an iPad, check out my book on HDR photography. It's pack with info and photo, too!

Family Photo Tips All This Week. Day 4: Move Your Subject Into the Shade

I am have fun getting my pictures and photo tips together for my talk on family photography at the Upper West Side Apple store on February 26th in NYC. 

While I am in the family photo mood, I thought I'd post some of my favorite family photos and tips here on my blog - along with some of my travel photographs that illustrate the same basic techniques.

Today's Tip: Move the subject into the shade.

On bright, sunny days, simply moving your subject into the shade reduces the contrast range in a scene, therefore eliminating harsh and unflattering shadows on a subject's face.

To lighten the subject's face, use a reflector to bounce sunlight onto the subject. 

Reflector info:

Two more tips: 
• The subject does not always need to be looking at the camera.
• Shoot as fast as you can. Know your camera controls inside and out so you can basically point-and-shoot on site.

These techniques also works when traveling, as illustrated by the photographs below, which I took during the Carnival of Venice in Italy, also known as Carnivale.

I am putting together a photo workshop to Venice for Carnivale in 2012. Shoot me an email if you are interested in joining the photo fun:

Explore the light,
P.S. When I travel, I store my pictures on my laptop and on a Mini G-Drive. And here is another tip: Keep your hard drive with you at all times. That way, if your laptop "walks away" from your hotel room, your pictures are still safe. Click below for info.