Tagged: Photography

Shooting Neon With an iPhone

February 22nd, 2014 Permalink

Back in 2010, I posted 10 tips for shooting neon. Now more and more people are carrying around their iPhone as their primary camera. I thought it was time to post a follow up with tips for shooting neon signs with a iPhone. Many of the same tips for shooting with a DLSR apply to […]

Back in 2010, I posted 10 tips for shooting neon. Now more and more people are carrying around their iPhone as their primary camera. I thought it was time to post a follow up with tips for shooting neon signs with a iPhone. Many of the same tips for shooting with a DLSR apply to the iPhone as well!

  1. Know Your Camera
  2. Neon is bright. Especially at night, this brightness can confuse the camera app and the exposure will not be what you want. However, most apps will let you set which spot is used for exposure and focus. For example, to set exposure and focus on the Camera app that comes with the iPhone, just tap on the screen. Holding down will lock the exposure and focus so you can compose the shot. Learning how to make the camera behave the way you want will make sure you can get the shot exposed just how you want it.

  3. Know Your Apps
  4. There are hundreds and hundreds of photography apps to choose from on the App Store. Knowing what the apps you have will do for an image is key to getting the image you want. Spend some time with each photo app you download, learning what adjustments it can perform and how they affect the image. Knowing this will help you pick the right app to get the look and feel you want.

    I like the way the Hipstamatic app combination of John S Lens and Kodot XGrizzled Film work with neon signs.

  5. Shoot Day Or Night
  6. Neon looks amazing at night, but don’t ignore it during the day. Often there are details that cannot be seen at night, and some signs no longer light up. But they still look good!

  7. Shoot During The Blue Hour
  8. Shooting neon when the sun is low in the sky will allow you to capture the glowing tubes as well as the surrounding context. This is a great time to shoot signs!

  9. Experiment
  10. Get close. Shoot reflections. Get under, behind, and above signs. Use the neon as part of the image, but not the only thing in the image. Use experimental photo apps, and combine the results of different apps. There’s no harm in trying things – pixels are free!

    Here are some apps that will do interesting and unexpected things to your photos:
    Decim8
    Percolator
    Interlacer (Full Disclosure: This app was written by me)

    This image was made with Hipstamatic and Interlacer:

    Also check out Doctor Popular’s Appsperiments

  11. Look At Other Photos
  12. There are a lot of people shooting neon with their iPhones. Look at what they are doing. Get inspired! Here are a few to get you started:
    Sean Calvey (scalvey)
    Sharlynn V (sv1)
    Frank Prosnik (innerstate1)

  13. Practice
  14. The more you do practice, the better you will get. Make time to shoot. Seek out interesting and vintage neon signs. Go have fun!

You can see all of my iPhone neon photos on Flickr.

This year, I decided to skip the “best of 2013″ list. Instead, I have compiled ten of my most memorable images of 2013. These are images that bring back definite memories of a time and a place. They are images that I have remembered all year, and images that have stuck with me for one reason or another. In no particular order, here are my 10 most memorable images of 2013.

“And When We Kiss, The Sky Is On Fire”
Iceland – March 2013
To be honest, I could have picked 10 images from our trip to Iceland for this post. Travel photography is always memorable, but Iceland is a whole different level. Around every bend are amazing, dramatic, beautiful views. The northern lights are an experience that is impossible to describe. This self-portrait is my favorite of the northern lights images from the trip. All my images from Iceland can be seen in this Flickr set.

“The Very Definition”
Paris, France – June 2013
I went to Paris for work during the summer. I had a chance to get out and shoot while I was there. This image was made along Rue de Rivoli in the late afternoon. When I look at this image, I can feel the warm air and hear the sound of high heels echoing through the walkway. You can see more of my images from Paris on Flickr.

“Generations”
Ogden, Utah – October 2013
My grandmother turned 93 this year, but she can still play the piano beautifully. This is her playing with her great-granddaughter. I regret that I have never been very good at capturing friends and family with the lens. This is a rare exception.

“Everything Stops Eventually, Some Things Sooner Than Others”
Reno, Nevada – January 2013
In January, I made a trip to Reno to spend some time with my parents. My father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer late in 2012, and they were in Reno for his treatment. It was a difficult time, and this particular image brings back many memories of my short stay there.

“Eternal Flame”
MLK Memorial, Atlanta, Georgia – January 2013
We visited Atlanta in 2013, and went to the MLK memorial. To be honest, I didn’t particularly care about seeing it. Once we were there, however, I was surprised by the magnitude of emotion that exists in this place. It is a very powerful monument, and a feeling I will not soon forget.

“Food To Take Home”
Atlanta, Georgia – January 2013
It is difficult to pick a single neon sign from the hundreds that I shot during 2013, but this one in Atlanta stands out. It is a wonderfully preserved example of a classic American diner, welcoming people day and night.

“Ask About What Might Be”
Jill Tracy at Cafe du Nord, San Francisco, California – September 2013
I was pleased to have an opportunity to shoot one of Jill Tracy’s performances at Cafe du Nord this year. Her shows are always memorable, and having the opportunity to capture the performance is something I always appreciate.

“Jessica And The Lamp”
Hotsy Totsy Club, Albany, California – August 2013
Jessica Maria, co-owner of the Hotsy Totsy Club in Albany, was the local winner of a cocktail competition, and was invited to compete in the national contest in Lima, Peru. I was asked to make some images of her in the club for promotional material. This is one of my favorites from the shoot.

“Scott Pavilion Street”
Winnemucca, Nevada – October 2013
This year we took a road trip, driving from San Francisco to Ogden across Interstate 80, and returning on Highway 6 through the middle of Nevada. It was a drive filled with beautiful, desolate spaces, and lots of vintage neon. This particular motel had signs at every freeway exit, pointing travelers to a decent spot to spend a night.

“Everywhere And Nowhere”
Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, Iceland – March 2013
This is a glacial lagoon, formed where a glacier meets the sea. The scenery here changes rapidly, and is never the same twice. Iceland is a remarkable place, and is easily my most memorable photo experience of 2013.

And those are my most memorable images of 2013. Thanks for looking!

Interlacer Contest Winners

July 4th, 2011 Permalink

It was difficult, but we narrowed down the Interlacer contest entries to select ten winners.

Last month, I announced a contest for users of Interlacer and Instagram. There were a lot of great entries, and it was difficult to choose only 10. The images are presented here, in no particular order. In the end, I think we got a great cross-section of really interesting images that people are creating on the iPhone.

This image by Ventri was chosen as the overall favorite:

This image by Always Breaking was chosen as the most creative. Both Doc Pop and I loved the way the interlace effect echoed the architectural theme of the shot:

dottiebobottie made this cool image of the 16th Street BART station:

deena21 created this interesting double exposure portrait:

debinsf used Decim8, Camera+, Blender, and Interlacer to make a very interesting landscape image:

maansee made this image along the Embarcedero in San Francisco:

topspinguy used Interlacer, Photoforge2, Diptic, and Slitscan to make this interesting abstract image:

mikistrange used Photoforge2 and Interlacer to come up with this image:

brandondoran came up with this creative entry:

amywhiggins used Stripecam and Interlacer to create this abstract:

I want to thank all the talented photographers that took the time to post an image. Special thanks to Doc Pop for helping to select the images and to Postagram for providing prizes.

Can’t get enough? Check out all the images on Instagram that were created with Interlacer.

10 Tips For Shooting Neon

September 16th, 2010 Permalink

Neon signs are a favorite subject of my photography. I have posted nearly 4,000 photos of neon, and have learned a few things about how to shoot it. Here are ten tips for shooting neon.

Two On The Line

  1. Use A Low ISO
  2. Neon lends itself to night shooting, so you may naturally think that you should shoot at a higher ISO to compensate for the dark surroundings. Don’t. Neon is bright! You can easily shoot neon signs at ISO 100-200. I shoot the vast majority of nighttime neon at ISO 200, occasionally bumping up to 400 or 640 if the sign is unusually dim.

  3. Shoot in Manual Mode
  4. Neon is bright! The contrast between the bright neon tubes and the dark background at night can easily confuse your camera’s meter. Switch to manual mode when shooting neon, and you will quickly appreciate the benefit of the extra control. A good place to start is 1/100th of a second, at f/5.6. Take a shot, review it on the screen, and adjust as needed. Usually I will adjust the aperture first, since using fast shutter speeds can result in a “marching ants” effect in the neon tubes.

  5. Shoot in RAW
  6. If your camera supports RAW imaging, use it. RAW will give you the most data. This, in turn, will give you the most flexibility in post-production, allowing you to pull out details that may otherwise be lost.

  7. Learn Your Camera’s LCD Screen
  8. On my camera’s LCD, properly exposed neon looks slightly underexposed. Learn what correctly exposed neon looks like on your particular camera’s LCD screen and you will save yourself a lot of frustration after the shoot.

  9. Shoot Day And Night Versions
  10. Neon often looks best at night. However, don’t discount shooting neon signs during the day. Many signs have painted detail that cannot be seen at night, and the shadows cast by the glass tubes can make for very interesting images.
    Air Devils Inn

  11. Get The Glow
  12. Neon signs often cast a nice glow on the area surrounding the sign. Try adjusting your exposure to capture the glow on the side of the building, as well as the neon tubing.
    That Li Po Glow

  13. Shoot During The Blue Hour
  14. The time between daylight and darkness is an excellent time to shoot neon signs. It is dark enough to allow the neon tubes to show up well, but there is enough light to see the surroundings.
    Cal West Motors

  15. Mix It Up
  16. Try shooting neon in different ways. Shoot the reflection in windows, the reflection in puddles and the color washed streets after the rain. If there is a sign in a window, try shooting the back of the sign. Try standing directly under a sign and shooting up. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
    Meet You In The Light

  17. Look At Other Photos
  18. Looking at how other people have captured images of neon signs is a great way to get inspired. Check out some of these shooters:
    Thomas Hawk
    Clearlight
    Devil Doll
    happyshooter
    loungelistener
    Tom Spaulding

  19. Practice
  20. Above all, get out there and shoot!

Do you have any tips for shooting neon signs? Share them in the comments.

555 Mission: Photography Is Not A Crime

August 26th, 2010 Permalink

I recently saw a post from Troy Holden regarding being harassed by the guards at 555 Mission in San Francisco for taking photographs. I was somewhat surprised, since I have shot there several times without incident. I decided to shoot the building on my way to work this morning. Here’s what happened. The shot you […]

I recently saw a post from Troy Holden regarding being harassed by the guards at 555 Mission in San Francisco for taking photographs. I was somewhat surprised, since I have shot there several times without incident. I decided to shoot the building on my way to work this morning. Here’s what happened.

Loading Dock, 555 Mission

The shot you see above is the loading dock at 555 Mission. While I was framing this shot, I was approached by a security guard. He wanted to know why I was taking pictures; I told him because I like to take pictures, I take pictures every day.

He told me that because of terrorism concerns photography of the building is not allowed. I told him thanks, but since I am on a public sidewalk I will continue taking photos. At the time, I was standing across the street on a public sidewalk.

At that point, he got on his radio and announced that they had a "terroist". I had to laugh at that.

Soon two other guards came out and told me that I was not allowed to take photographs of the building. They threatened to call the police; I invited them to do so. I continued taking pictures, shooting the rear of the building, the window washers that were working at the time, and continuing to the front of the building.

As I was finishing with the shots I wanted to get, Security Supervisor Nicholas Torres came out and gave me a "Courtesy Card" explaining their photography policy. I told him that it didn’t matter what their policy was, it does not change what my rights are. He acknowledged that I had the right to take photographs from the sidewalk (which contradicts what the other guard was telling me), but then said that they do not want me to take photographs of the exterior of the building (contradicting the card), and that I could not take pictures from the plaza (again contradicting the card), even though it is designated as a Privately Owned Public Open Space (POPOS). The Courtesy Card looks like this:
Courtesy Card

Perhaps it is not too surprising that the guard was contradicting what the courtesy card said, since the courtesy card contradicts itself. The first paragraph indicates that United Protection Service, apparently the company that is contracted to provide security services for this property, respects photographers rights. The second paragraph forbids photography of certain subjects. However, photographers’ constitutional rights do not stop at loading docks, security personnel, building entrances, garages, security desks, or lobby areas. If these things are visible from a public location, they can be photographed. In addition, there seems to be a disconnect between the United Protection Service policy stated on the card and the guards statement that photography of the building and photography in the plaza is forbidden. According to these policies, the photograph you see above is forbidden, as are all of these photographs, even though they were taken from public property:

Icewashed 555 Mission Street
Watching Left And Watching Right
Nicholas Torres

Troy has contacted the building management, and hopefully will have some answers from them soon. Ideally they will communicate to the security guards that photography is not a crime, so that photographers at this location will not be harassed in the future.

Photography is not a crime.

you can see all my photos from 555 Mission in my 555 Mission set on Flickr.

Update: Caliber SF has a post about this as well.

Photo Workflow Using Aperture

November 1st, 2009 Permalink

This is my second Workflow post. Previously, I talked about My Geotagging Workflow. I shoot every day. After a while, all those photos start adding up. Often people ask me how I manage all those images, and what my workflow is for processing them. This post details the current workflow that I’ve developed, using Aperture […]

This is my second Workflow post. Previously, I talked about My Geotagging Workflow.

I shoot every day. After a while, all those photos start adding up. Often people ask me how I manage all those images, and what my workflow is for processing them. This post details the current workflow that I’ve developed, using Aperture and a combination of Projects and Smart Albums to automate the details.

At the beginning of each month, I create a new Project in Aperture. The project is named “yyyy-mm Photos”. So today, since it is the beginning of November, I created “2009-11 Photos”. Inside this new project, I create a Smart Album named “TODO” that shows all Unrated photos:

Aperture - Smart Album

All the photos I take during the month will be imported into the Project for that month. After I import a batch, I click on the TODO Smart Album and take a few minutes and look at them, marking any obviously useless shots as Rejected. Marking them as Rejected automatically removes them from the TODO Smart Album, since it only matches Unrated photos.

When I am ready to process some photos, I select a TODO Smart Album. Usually, I have several to choose from, since I am rarely caught up to the current month. I will look through the photos in the album, processing photos that catch my eye. Sometimes I will just concentrate on a batch of photos, rather than processing photos from different months.

When I am finished with the adjustments for a particular photo, I add keywords using the Keyword Controls window in Aperture. I have some predefined keywords that I use often assigned to buttons in the Keyword Controls window. For keywords that are not assigned to a button I just start typing and Aperture auto-completes them. I normally add geographic keywords (at least city and state), as well as keywords for photo type, objects in the photo, and anything else that will help me find the photo at a later date. Adding keywords in Aperture ensures that the exported photos that get uploaded to various web sites will always contain the keyword metadata.

Aperture - Keyword Control

After adding Keywords, I rate the photo from 3 to 5 stars. Any photo with a rating of three stars or higher will be uploaded to Flickr and Zooomr, and possibly other services. Five stars means the photo is a personal favorite. After adding the rating, the photo disappears from the TODO Smart Album, and I can begin processing the next photo.

When I am ready to upload photos to Flickr and Zooomr, I click on my Ready to Upload Smart Album. This is a Smart Album that matches all photos with a rating of three stars or higher, AND photos that do NOT have the keywords “flickr” and “zooomr”:

Aperture - Ready to Upload

I select photos that I want to upload from this Smart Album, and then export them as JPG’s to a folder on my hard drive. After the export is complete, I add the keywords “flickr” and “zooomr” to the photos that are selected, which automatically removes them from the Ready to Upload Smart Album. I then use JUploadr to upload the exported photos to Flickr and Zooomr. After the batch has been uploaded to both sites, I delete the JPG’s, since I can easily re-export them again as needed.

Once I have finished processing all the photos for a particular month, I delete the TODO smart album for that month.

Using Smart Albums and Keywords in this way allows me to easily determine which photos need to be processed, which photos are ready to be uploaded, and which photos I have already uploaded. It greatly simplifies the details of keeping my photos organized, and allows me to concentrate on processing photos, rather than organizing photos.

The 50 States Project

August 5th, 2009 Permalink

One of my flickr contacts, trixiebedlam, is attempting to visit and shoot all 50 states this year. It’s an ambitious project that has produced some great results, which you can see in this collection on Flickr. She has visited 36 out of the 50 states so far, and is trying to raise enough money to […]

there are some mornings when the sky looks like a road by trixiebedlam, used by permission

"there are some mornings when the sky looks like a road" by trixiebedlam, used by permission

One of my flickr contacts, trixiebedlam, is attempting to visit and shoot all 50 states this year. It’s an ambitious project that has produced some great results, which you can see in this collection on Flickr.

lil deb by trixiebedlam, used by permission

"li'l deb" by trixiebedlam, used by permission

She has visited 36 out of the 50 states so far, and is trying to raise enough money to cover the expenses involved in getting to the last 14. If you would like to help, you can head over to the 50 States Project kickstarter page. Kickstarter is a pretty cool concept: If the project has enough support, it will be funded. If not, nobody has to pay. She is offering some great incentives to supporters, such as a set of 50 state postcards or a photo book of the project. The economy sucks right now, but if there’s one thing worth supporting, it’s art.

at the circus by trixiebedlam, used by permission

"at the circus" by trixiebedlam, used by permission

outpost by trixiebedlam, used by permission

"outpost" by trixiebedlam, used by permission

Photographers Rights in LA

January 23rd, 2009 Permalink

Last week, Bryan Villarin was harassed while shooting photos of a building in downtown Los Angeles by the misinformed building securitytheatre guards. Rather than just slink away when threatened by the overgrown schoolyard bullies, he stood up for his right to shoot, and with the help of Discarted — another Los Angeles area photographer — […]

Last week, Bryan Villarin was harassed while shooting photos of a building in downtown Los Angeles by the misinformed building securitytheatre guards. Rather than just slink away when threatened by the overgrown schoolyard bullies, he stood up for his right to shoot, and with the help of Discarted — another Los Angeles area photographer — set up a photographers rights demonstration in front of the building.

The photographers were well organized, shot photos and video, and presented the results of the excursion. Taking video was a nice touch, since it lets people see how ridiculous and unreasonable these securitytheatre guards really are.

This post is beginning to get some attention, which is a good thing. It has appeared on the LA Weekly Blog, and you can Digg it here.

Photography is not a crime. If you are in a public area, you have the right to take photographs of whatever you can see. Kudos to the photographers in Los Angeles who took the time to stand up for their — and all of our — rights as photographers.

SF MOMA – Photography Is Not A Crime

August 9th, 2008 Permalink

This is the exterior of the San Francisco Museum of Art. Until recently, they had a strict no-photography policy. The museum recently changed this policy to read as follows: Photography is not permitted in the galleries. Flash photography is permitted only with a handheld camera in the Atrium. Apparently not all of the museum personnel […]

MOMA

This is the exterior of the San Francisco Museum of Art. Until recently, they had a strict no-photography policy. The museum recently changed this policy to read as follows:

Photography is not permitted in the galleries. Flash photography is permitted only with a handheld camera in the Atrium.

Apparently not all of the museum personnel got the memo. Yesterday, Thomas Hawk was kicked out of the museum by Simon Blint, the Director of Visitor Relations for the museum. Why was he kicked out? For taking a photo in the atrium of the museum.

This kind of behavior is inexcusable. This person is a horrible reflection on a place like SFMOMA, and it is my sincere hope that the people higher up in the management make him accountable for this action. There is no way this person should be allowed to hold the title “Director of Visitor Relations” after exhibiting this kind of flagrant disregard for museum policy toward a guest of the museum.

Zooomr Gets More Awesome

June 25th, 2008 Permalink

This morning, photo sharing site Zooomr rolled out some new features, improving their already excellent photo sharing experience. The navigation bar at the top of the screen is now much cleaner, and includes drop-down menus for accessing features: Discover has undergone some major changes as well. The algorithm has been tuned to better represent shots […]

This morning, photo sharing site Zooomr rolled out some new features, improving their already excellent photo sharing experience.

The navigation bar at the top of the screen is now much cleaner, and includes drop-down menus for accessing features:
Drop-down menus

Discover has undergone some major changes as well. The algorithm has been tuned to better represent shots that are truly awesome. Discover is now paged as well, so you can see more than just the first 100 photos that show up. There are also alternate Discover views available, including Pro and Undiscovered. The Undiscovered view is particularly nice because it allows you to find photographers that you have not yet interacted with. Here’s an example of some of the great shots that I found using Undiscovered:

Undiscovered

The latest release of Zooomr has introduced the idea of “Awards”. Many users on Zooomr have been tagging their photos with “fav10″ when they get 10 faves from other users. The Zooomr team have taken this idea a step further by automatically adding an award tag when photos get 10 faves. All the awards given to a photo will show up under the “Awards” section to the right of the photo. Awards are just tags, so they can be used to create SmartSets and can be used in searches:

Awards

Another recent feature is the ability to share a photo on popular social networking sites with a single click. Underneath each photo is a “Share this with Friends” section that lets you send the photo to Facebook, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Pownce, and more. This is a great way to leverage the social aspect of photography:
Sharing

In addition to these very obvious changes, the Zooomr team has been improving the back-end processes that keep the site going. The last few months have seen substantial improvements in the speed and reliability of the site. Uploads are now working as expected. The API is working, which allows third-party applications such as JUploadr to work with the site again. The site is smoother and faster overall.

Thanks to Kristopher and the Zooomr Team for all the hard work! Zooomr is getting more awesome all the time!