Friday, February 15, 2019

Basic Photography Class March 28, April 2, 4 and 9.


I will be teaching my Basic Photography Class starting on March 28, 2019.  The class will start out with learning the basics of photography - light, shutter speed, aperture and how to use them on your camera.  From there we will get into color, composition, lighting, techniques and photographic gear selection.  We'll talk about some common photography
challenges and how to overcome them. We will go over different photo editing packages, organizing photos, printing, and sharing online.   The class will be a combination of classroom teaching, practicing our new photography skills, and reviews of photography assignments.

The class is designed for a photographer who has a DSLR, mirrorless camera, or advanced compact camera.

Classroom sessions are March 28, April 2, 4 and 9 from 6:00 PM– 8:00 PM in the Eastman Employee Center.   There will be one field trip on Saturday, April 6 to practice what we have learned.  The Saturday time will depend on what works best for the majority of the students.

In every Class we will have time for:
  • Review of Homework – yes, we are in school again.
  • Teaching
  • Problem Solving - Bring your camera and problem photos to class
  • Questions and Answers

The class is open to Eastman Camera Club members.  The good news is anyone can join the club by going to http://eastmancameraclub.com/ and clicking on About near the upper left of the page.

Cost - $45/person.   Maximum of 14 people per class.  Call Eastman Recreation Office at 423-229-3771 to sign up.   This is a popular class and always fills up so don't wait.  Contact me if you have any questions.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Change Your Perspective

Here's an example that shows how changing your camera position relative to the subject can make a difference in your photo's composition.

I took these two photos earlier this week in Joshua Tree National Park.  The first one was taken at 5:52 PM using a focal length of 52mm (78mm in full frame equivalent terms). 

52mm from closer

I intentionally stood where the crescent moon would be between the branches.  I like that composition, but I didn't stop there.  I took several more shots of the moon and that tree.  

88mm from farther away

The second photo was taken less than two minutes later.  I stepped back several feet from the tree and zoomed in to 88mm (132mm).  Simply moving changed the position of the moon relative to the tree.  Zooming in also increased the size of the band of warm sunset color and made the moon appear larger relative to the tree.

Neither composition is "right".  With all art, it is a matter of personal taste.  I hope you enjoy one of these photos and get some value from this blog post.  Please leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Welcome New Subscribers. Here's something on Black & White Landscapes

Can converting a color photo to black and white improve it?  What type of photos work better as black and white?  How is shooting for black and white different?

I've been writing this blog for several years.  Sometimes I write a new post almost weekly.  Other times, I'm not so diligent.  Recently there have been several new people subscribe to the blog and that has motivated me to try to do better.  Here's my first post of 2019.

Winter in East Tennessee can be challenging for nature/landscape photographers.  The trees are bare, there are no flowers. In fact, there is very little color to be found during the winter months.  When blessed with a nice snowfall we have abundant opportunities to make some beautiful photos of snow scenes, but that doesn't happen very often.  Except for sunrise rise and sunset, most days are grey and blah.

Some of the best color in the winter is around streams where moss grows on the rocks, like in this photo from Rocky Fork State Park.
Rocky Fork
Streams and waterfalls are some of my favorite subjects to photograph.  I try to capture the movement of the water using a longer exposure of around 1 second.  This can result in a photo with bright white water and darker surrounding objects.  I've found high contrast scenes like this can be dramatic when converted to black and white.
Converted to Black & White
When color is removed the composition and the tonal range of light in the photo become more important.  The tonal range of your landscape is basically the amount of highlights, darks, and every shade of grey in between. Highlights are your brightest whites, darks are your dark blacks.

When you are shooting a black and white photo, you should shoot in color and convert to black and white in post-processing.  That will give you the most control of the tonal values when editing the photo later.  If you shoot in black and white you will not be able to change the tonal values of different colors, such as making the green moss brighter in the example above.

You have to think differently when composing a black and white photo.  Without color, you’re dealing strictly with light tones now.  You should try to use that to your advantage when composing your shot. Instead of relying on color to separate your subject or draw the viewer's eye, look for light to create a dramatic photograph.  Shapes and lines can be important compositional elements in a black and white photo.  Often a high contrast photo will work great as a black and white.  Things such as texture become more important when color is removed.
Glacier National Park

The photo from Glacier National Park is one of my favorite black and white landscapes.  There is dramatic light, high tonal range, interesting clouds, and plenty of detailed texture in the trees and mountains.

Visualizing a scene in black and white is a skill that can take some time to develop.  Setting your camera to black and white can be a helpful tool when trying to visualize the black and white shot.  Just remember to take a color shot as well.

Below are a few examples from a recent trip to Rocky Fork State Park near Flag Pond, Tennessee. 



Making black and white photos can be fun.  Give it a try and let me know what you come up with.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

What If You Lost All Your Digital Photos?

Hey photographers, this question is for you.  Where are your photos stored?  Are they all on a single computer?  Are they backed up?  Where are the backups stored?  What if you lost them all?

Our neighbor's house burned a couple weeks ago.  Thanks to a heroic neighbor, they all got out safely.  However, their house and contents didn't fare as well.  A demolition crew is currently tearing down the house and piling everything in large construction dumpsters to be hauled off.  By this time next year, they will be back in a brand new home, with new furniture, clothes, dishes, TVs, computers, etc.  All the material things can be replaced.  What about the digital things that were in the house?  Computers and hard drives don't hold up very well to fire and water.

If you had a disaster in your home or office, how would your digital images fare?  Would they be gone forever?  Unless you have backup copies somewhere else then fires, floods, broken pipes, etc. can wipe out your images and local backup copies.

I have all my digital image files on a Network Storage System (NAS) with RAID drives where they are protected from failure of the hard drives.  Other disks are backed up every night.  Sounds pretty safe, but all those copies are in one location.  Recent events have gotten me thinking of off-site backups. My plan is to buy some external hard drives, copy all my important files to them and store them somewhere outside our home.   This solution is only as good as my diligence in keeping the off-site copies up to date.

I've looked into backing up my files to the cloud.  The problem is my internet connection is limited to  3 Mbps upload speed. It would take about a month to upload my images to the cloud.  Then, every time I come home from a trip I would have to upload a thousand or more images.  This doesn't sound sustainable.

What are your solutions for protecting your digital image files from disaster?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

And The Winners Are...

The people have spoken and the votes have been tallied. 

The winning photos for the 2019 calendar are

First Place - Port Clinton Lighthouse at Dusk


  1. Port Clinton Lighthouse (#24)
    Second Place - Tip Toes
  2. Tip Toes (#8)
  3. Storms On The Horizon (#34)
  4. Monet at Bays Mountain (#3)
  5. Tahquamenon Falls SP (#2)
  6.  Mount Shasta (#23)
  7.  Lady Bird Johnson Grove (#19)
  8. Oconaluftee River (#4)
  9. Morton Overlook Sunset (27)
  10. Cades Cove Methodist Church (#7)
  11. Foggy Morning at WPSP (#12)

All the photos are still available for viewing here.

Why only 11 photos?  Well, I said I would pick two from my recent trip to The Grand Tetons National Park to round out the 13.  I took over 3,000 photos in six days on that trip.  I ran through those that were landscape (wide) orientation to fit on the calendar pages and quickly picked 24.  With the help of June and Holly, I narrowed those down to these two.

T.A. Moulton Barn

Mount Moran From Oxbow Bend

It wasn't easy picking two out of 3,000.  Since I took these on the cusp of my past 12-month range, I may use some Teton photos in the 2020 calendar.

Thanks to everyone who helped select the photos by voting.  You really make my life easier and make the calendar better.  I'll be finishing up the calendar layout and sending it off to the printer soon.  It's not too early to pre-order your calendars. Just send an email to rcisggins@gmail.com and let me know how many you want.  They are still only $15.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Registration Open For Next Basic Photography Class


I will be teaching my Basic Photography Class starting November 8.  This is a popular class and always fills up.  The class will start out with learning the basics of photography - light, shutter speed, aperture and how to use them on your camera.  From there we will get into color, composition, lighting, techniques and photographic gear selection.  We'll talk about some common photography challenges and how to overcome them. We will go over different photo editing packages, organizing photos, printing, and sharing online.   The class will be a combination of classroom teaching, practicing our new photography skills, and reviews of photography assignments.

The class is designed for a photographer who has a DSLR, mirrorless camera, or advanced compact camera.

Classroom sessions are November 8, 13, 15 and 20 from 6:00 PM– 8:00 PM in the Eastman Employee Center.   There will be one field trip on Saturday, November 17 to practice what we have learned.  The Saturday time will depend on what works best for the majority of the students.

In every Class we will have time for:
  • Review of Homework – yes, we are in school again.
  • Problem Solving - Bring your camera and problem photos to class
  • Questions and Answers

The class is open to Eastman Camera Club members.  The good news is anyone can join the club by going to http://eastmancameraclub.com/ and clicking on About near the upper left of the page.

Cost - $45/person.   Maximum of 14 people per class.  Call Eastman Recreation Office at 423-229-3771 to sign up.   Contact me if you have any questions.

Richard Siggins
rcsiggins@gmail.com
423-416-1258

Friday, September 21, 2018

It's Time To Vote (on calendar photos)

No dirty politics or ugly campaign ads here.  Just me asking for your help picking the photos to go on my 2019 calendar.

I have done the hard part and gone through 8,546 photos from the past 12 months and narrowed them down to 38. Now I need your help with the really hard part - picking the finalists to go on the calendar for next year.

There are a few changes for 2019:
#3 Monet at Bays Mountain

  • I'm trying out a new company to print the calendars.  I used the same company for years but they have made some major mistakes in the last couple of years.  I haven't used this new company before and am praying that their quality will be outstanding.  
  • I will also be switching from the spiral bound to a stapled format, which saves on printing costs.  This means more money goes to charity.
  • Two spots will be reserved on the calendar for photos I haven't taken yet.  I'm heading to Grand Tetons National Park and hope to come home with a couple calendar-worthy photos.  No pressure, right? I'll pick those last two, add them to the calendar and announce the election results in mid-October.
Here's how you can vote.
  1. Go to the 2019 Calendar Candidates gallery on my website - https://www.thesiggins.com/SpecialProjects/2019-Calendar-Candidates/
  2. Pick your favorite 12 photos that you would like to see on the calendar.  The order doesn't matter so no need to rank them as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.  Each photo has a title and number from 1 - 38.  I need the number.  
  3. Email the list of 12 to rcsiggins@gmail.com by Tuesday, October 9th.

The calendars will be $15 again this year and all the profit is donated to a local charity.  If all goes well I will have them available in early November.   You can pre-order calendars by sending an email to rcsiggins@gmail.com.  I deliver locally.  In the past, I have mailed calendars to customers across the US, Japan, and Europe and I will do that again this year for $3 per calendar.  International rates will be a little higher.

Feel free to forward this on to friends that may be interested in a calendar.  As long as they plan to buy one they can vote.