Pretty sure from my results, you'll appreciate the stunning scenery we were fortunate enough to capture.
Click the images to enlarge
I had the opportunity to visit Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia with my NANPA meetup group. With fellow photographers Don Brown and David Culp, we spent a long weekend with a dozen other members photographing sunrise to sunset and everything in between!
Pretty sure from my results, you'll appreciate the stunning scenery we were fortunate enough to capture.
Click the images to enlarge
For the most part, images were taken with my Nikon D750 and Sigma 150-600mm with the occasional backup of my D7100 and Sigma 28-250mm. ISO ranged from 100 to 3200 with shutter speeds and apertures selected for the appropriate action...or lack of it! Post processing was minimal, and if you're not sure what all of that means...take one of my workshops :)
Many thanks to Don for making this trip happen, David for his unending enthusiasm for getting the shot, Jack McCole for my early morning coffee and to all the others that made it so much fun!
A recent project reminded me of two things: It's been a long time since I posted on my blog and it's been a year since I was light painting the side of a barn in the Grand Tetons with Dave Black!
No Dave Black this time, but instead I was working with Carolyn of CMR Automotive Photography to get these images of a Lotus Evora.
As you can see, the house kind of painted itself in light. The car though, did not! Over the course of two hours, using a variety of hand held 'lighting tools' we took a series of 30 second exposures.
When you are light painting, every exposure is different from the last so you're continually looking at each shot and remembering what you just did so you can improve upon it. Hopefully. But with a finite amount of time and a big scene to paint....time isn't on your side. 30 seconds goes really fast!
With the camera on a tripod set to ISO 100 and f16 and the lens on manual focus, Carolyn and I, with the car owner, too, went about covering the car with light.
Here are the results!
These are from a few weeks ago when Carolyn and I took her Beast out for a test run!
After a little hiatus, I thought it was time to get back to the blog!
Last weekend, I spent a few hours with the North American Nature Photography Association meetup group at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. This time of year there's not much to see at the garden unless you go there for the orchid conservatory, which is always warm and there's always something to photograph.
Equipped with my D750, SB800 and Ray Flash ring flash, coupled with my Sigma 70-300mm Macro, it was a few hours well spent....and I was able to meet some like-minded photographers too!
Here's a few of the keepers.
OK, it took me a little longer than I'd hoped to try this on my own for the first time...but it was lot of fun!
It's a technique I'd first tried with Dave Black at the Photography at the Summit workshop a month ago.
What is light-painting? Well, in this set up it's a long exposure photograph using only a flashlight in a dark room to expose the 'subject'. It's an incredibly challenging technique, as no two photos look the same. Your flashlight is the only light source, and where you point and for how long, determines the amount of light falling on your subject.
Starting out, all I'm using is a modified LED mini flashlight that I had sitting around the house. How modified? Well, I used a piece of gaffers tape to create a narrower cone of light so I could make the beam less spread out and more directional. So while there are some nicer flash lights that Dave recommends that come with their own snoot, by no means is it a necessity.
Get your flashlights ready and start painting!
All these are 30 second exposures at f11, ISO 200
Light painting...before the light and after!
A few weeks ago I was in The Grand Tetons National Park with some of the best photographers ever to grace the pages of publications like National Geographic, Newsweek, and Time, to mention a few.
For the most part we were there to photograph wildlife and landscapes, but but for now I'm going to share the photos I took while learning to Light Paint with photographer Dave Black. Dave's sports photography is spectacular, and if you take a look at his website you'll probably recognize some of his images even if you don't recognize his name.
I was lucky enough to spend several days, nights, and mornings with Dave and a few other photographers learning his light painting techniques. Basically, you're in the dark using a small pen light, or out doors using hand held spotlights to light your subject. It's long exposure photography at it's most fun!
Using 30 second exposures and light 'tools' adds a different perspective to a subject, and getting the same effect twice is nearly impossible!
I'm looking forward to doing more experimenting...but for now, here's the photos from the workshop.
These indoor exposures were 30 secs @f11, ISO 200. Taken in a dark room, the only light was coming from my mini flashlights.
So why would I want to go to this workshop? Well, it's been on my radar a long time. For over 15 years in fact. I discovered it after visiting Tom Mangelsen's gallery in La Jolla and after finding he was a faculty member at the Photography at the Summit Workshops...well, like I said, it's been on my radar ever since.
Although the prospect of spending time with Tom Mangelsen was the immediate draw, what I found was a faculty consisting of photographers as accomplished as Tom Mangelsen in their respective fields of work.
I'm not going to go in to the details of each faculty member I had the incredible pleasure of working with and learning from, but I have listed each with a link to their websites. Suffice it to say, National Geographic, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, PhotoShelter, The Washington Post, and more are all represented by these masters of their craft.
It was humbling to be in their presence sometimes, but the week was fun, rewarding, more of an education than I could ever have anticipated: and possibly life-changing!
Ok...the critiques of our work were sometimes brutal, but I'm happy to say I worked hard at applying what I'd learned and didn't suffer a bad critique...in fact my daily submissions were well received! So here they are...
Last Sunday a group of 22 of us from the Ballantyne Photography Club had a private session at the Carolina Raptor Center here near Charlotte...and what fun we had. Two hours of photographing a variety of hawks, owls, eagles and others all to ourselves before the center opened to the public!
Not much else to say....here's the results!
OK, you caught me! They're not really the crown jewels, but this is a neat story regardless, so read on!
A little while ago a new client contacted me through Nikonians because she was looking for a photographer to help her photograph the jewelry she makes and sells on ebay and Etsy.
Paula had been working with a different photographer for a while, but was unhappy with the results she was getting, and I'm happy to say I was able to help her learn a little about her Mac laptop, install ACDSee Pro8 to handle the images we're taking, and improve the quality of the photographs!
I've been working with her for several weeks now using a simple table top studio with daylight balanced lights and a fill flash. Pretty simple set up for some awesome results...when you know what you're doing :)
I'm looking forward to working with Paula on an ongoing basis...check out her store, Certain Style on Etsy. Her work is fantastic.
Remember, if you're selling online, the quality of your photos says as much about you, your store and your professionalism as the quality of your products do! So don't hesitate to call me if you need your products photographed to represent them in the best possible light! You'll probably sell more too :)
Well, this photo has little to do with my new website...but you will find it on there.
It was taken when I was a student in London, so it was one of those that was actually taken on film that I processed and printed myself! An almost forgotten art these days...by me anyway...but I digress!
So, to my new website: it's at the same address www.ColinHocking.photography but has a whole new platform, which I hope has a much bigger visual impact!
Please drop in and let me know what you think.
Also, if you haven't already, please click the link and 'Like' me on my Colin Hocking Photography Facebook page...I update that page a lot more these days.
I decided to take the office on to the porch today. The Meike remote I've been using came in really handy for me to sit and work with one eye on the feeder!
I'd set my camera up on the tripod earlier, so as I sat and watched, the Humming Birds arrived. It was then just a push of a button to release the shutter from the comfort of my chair 15 feet away.
Pretty pleased with the results!
Shot at ISO 400 with a Nikkor 70-300mm F5.6 @250sec. AF was set to Continuous using the 51 point Dynamic AF on my Nikon D750.
Heard from the editor of Ballantyne Magazine yesterday that my Cardinal photo will be featured as their Eye Level photo in their summer issue!
The photo was taken along the McAlpine Creek greenway behind Pike's Garden Center. I always park near the greenway entrance there because it's a much bigger parking lot.
The greenway here in south Charlotte is an amazing place to see local birds and wildlife...if you haven't been...GO! Or join me and the Ballantyne Photo Club on a photo safari some time.
Out with the Ballantyne Photo Club this morning and walking the greenway here in south Charlotte. A drizzly, cold start...and a challenge to find some photo inspiration!
Had to get 'creative' and look for leaves to photograph, as there was little else. Good company though with those that showed.
Finally had a reason to take the D750 on a photography expedition!
A visit to the orchid conservatory at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens a few weeks ago was a good way to get in to the spring mood!
I was able to put to good use my Sigma 75-300mm macro lens and Ray Flash, too. I was very pleased with the results...
Shooting in macro mode requires a little more set up than some may realize. Because of the minimal depth of field it's better to use the smallest aperture available. My lens was stopped all the way down to F32, which when coupled with a low ISO to maintain a high quality image, meant longer shutter speeds. Longer shutter speeds and accurate focusing (because of the shallow depth of field) requires a tripod, and better to have a camera whose mirror will lock and a remote release.
Adding a Ray Flash to the mix meant that I could add some fill-flash. Here's how my set up looked!
I found that using manual focus was imperative after framing the subject, otherwise the camera would readjust any focus I'd set using it's autofocus once I pressed the shutter release.
Contrary to some popular belief, macro need not be expensive to get in to. The Sigma lens I use can now be purchased on ebay for about $80 and some type of ring flash for not much more than that. Most photographers already have the tripod and remote release...but those can be picked up inexpensively too! For me, getting this close in to the subject opens up a whole new world of beauty!
For more photos from the day, take a look at my FaceBook page, or join the fun yourself and join the Ballantyne Photo Club on our outings. Click the MeetUp button at the top of this post.
It spent the best part of two and a half weeks away at the Nikon service center under the recall notice. It's been freezing cold here since it returned and I find it a challenge to go out to take photos without an inspiring project and less than perfect weather! Mainly it's the less than perfect weather!
I'm happy to report a new addition to the gear line up, though!
When you're used to using your camera in portrait orientation and having grip that helps, it's a challenge to readjust. I decided to look at the Nikon MB D16, but the $485 price tag was hard to swallow!
Fortunately, a quick Amazon search led me to some highly rated and much less expensive alternatives. Not only, did I save about $400, but the Meike DR750 comes with a built in wireless remote which is not on the Nikon.
Having had the Meike for a few days now, I can say I'm extremely pleased by it. It's a solid construction, and I was especially concerned about the battery compartment latch. I had to have that fixed on my MB D200 more than once, but on the Meike, it's solid!
The wireless remote, that will work up to 100 meters is pretty fantastic too. It can be set up with time-lapse, Bulb, continuous and single shooting modes, and has a much longer range than the 15 feet or so of the IR remote that I bought from Nikon.
All in all, an extremely good purchase that you can also find on my Amazon store, along with my other recent additions. These include the Manfrotto MK294C3, which is possibly the lightest, sturdiest, tripod I've ever owned. When you're investing in top of the range camera gear, it's worth protecting that investment with a tripod that can handle the weight....otherwise, as happened to me last year, a tripod leg failure can send your camera and 300mm lens 20 feet down the ravine! Everything survived...due to amazing Nikon construction! But why risk it???
If I can muster the courage tomorrow morning to brave the after effects of snowmageddon here, I'll be putting all this gear to use. Off to buy bread and milk...not that we use either...just seems like the right thing to do!
As you may know, over the last year I’ve been working towards holding international photo tours as part of my role as a photography workshop leader…well, the time has come! While I was talking with my group travel coordinator, Costa Rica came up, and there are dates available! Here’s the thing, if you are interested I will need you to email me with your ‘verbal’ commitment by FEB 20th!
Here’s why: I need a minimum of 8 people to bring this trip together, and the dates are only available at this price until the end of February. Once 8 people have messaged me and told me they want to go, I will ask the travel coordinator to make plans to run the trip. Once plans are in motion after Feb 20th, you will need to pay your deposit and secure your place on the trip by February 28th.
Why do I need 8 people? So that we can have our own group, which means I will be able to customize the daily activities to include varying the amount of time we stay at any one location…AND include tuition for the photographers on the trip so that we can maximize our photographic opportunities. Bring your laptops with Lightroom or any other editing software, and we can set time aside for post processing techniques, too. There’s plenty of things to do for the non-photographer…like carrying your bag and tripod….ok, only slightly kidding, but they are welcome, too!
See the wildlife Costa Rica has to offer…like the Resplendent Quetzal, Cayman, sloth, howler monkeys, and more!
It’s this simple…if I don’t get 8 commitments by Feb 20th…we don’t go!
Here are the details:
Departure Date: November 3 or 4 2015
Duration: 12 days
Deposit: $350 per person
Cost: $2295 Land only, no single supplement!
Return air from Charlotte is available for $880pp, and the tour company can arrange your flight from any location, or you can book your own.
OK, let’s go!
For a complete itinerary suggestion, click here.
In case it was lost in one of my other posts, I am happy to announce my new role as an instructor with the Nikonians Academy!
You can see my schedule for classes by clicking the links, and stay tuned there's more to come!
If you're not familiar with the Nikonians organization, they are a world-wide community of Nikon users, and the Academy provides educational workshops and photo tours.
Just in case you miss my Facebook ad, you can click the image above to see how you can buy this 16"x20" metal print for an unbelievably low price! But not for long.... do it now :)
As some of you saw in my last post on Christmas eve, my Nikon D750 arrived and I'm getting to know all the features Nikon's newest camera has. A couple of other new pieces of gear made it in to the collection too! A new carbon fiber Manfrotto tripod and a strobe light softbox by Fotodiox!
All will be put to great use in the coming year, and as I mentioned in my last post, I'm very excited to announce some work related news!
For many months last year I was working with the Nikonians organization to get up to speed to conduct workshops for their members, and I'm now able to confirm my first dates with them teaching classes on cameras, software, and lighting systems. You can see my schedule here.
When I was redeveloping my business a little over a year ago, I was looking for a way to bring teaching back in to my world, and through the workshops and tours I've been holding here in Charlotte, I've been able to progress much more quickly than I had thought. Working with Nikonians is the next great step!
Along the way, I'll still be conducting local workshops and guided photo tours, taking photos of kids, families, pets, and for my commercial clients.....and I'll be adding some travel photography, too!
So, a big thank you to all of you that have supported my efforts to share with you the world of photography...I'm looking forward to a LOT more of the same this year!
My next Beginners Photography Workshop is Jan 24th in Ballantyne!
It's been a while since I've given an update, and this is a brief one...well it's Christmas eve after all!. The photo shows the reason....a new camera to work with!
The Nikon D750....fresh out of the box! I bought it from B and H Photo and the other goodies came free. A really nice little camera bag, 16GB SD card and a spare battery....not the cheapest price I could find, but the package fit my needs and came with a US warranty, as opposed to the grey market cameras that you can get much cheaper.
I'm looking forward to giving you updates on how much fun I'm having with it...and stay tuned for more, very exciting news early next year! Which is only a little over a week away.....
Merry Christmas everyone.
As you can see, a trip to the NC waterfalls around Brevard was a huge success! But first, a quick reminder that my Beginners Photography Workshop is this coming Saturday...click for details.
A couple of weekends ago, several Ballantyne Photography Club members and myself took a trip out to Brevard for a chilly 32F start to the day of photographing waterfalls. Starting at Looking Glass Falls, we were able to catch the early morning light. Using only a polarizing filter to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor, we were able to get some pleasing results...even if our fingers couldn't feel the dials! The polarized filter also gave a boost to the colors we were seeing as a result of reducing spectral reflections.
Of course, the key to getting the water to look like clouds, or cotton wool, is a longer exposure time to blur the movement of water. So, what constitutes longer? Well, it's a case of trial and error...but usually in the realm of seconds!
You can read a more comprehensive explanation of my methods from my blog in May titled 'Photographing Cloud falls'. For the way I shoot, the ability to use your camera in Manual mode is a must, especially when using your Histogram to judge exposure, and then using equivalent exposures to vary the aperture and shutter speeds to maintain the correct exposure. Why use different shutters speeds? Well, the same scene photographed with different shutter speeds causes different amounts of blur in the water. So, I usually take 3 or 4 shots of the same scene at varying shutter speeds just to see which blur effect I like most. It also means I need to know how to calculate equivalent exposures using Manual mode...so if you don't know how to do that, come to my workshop on Saturday to learn!
Many thanks to Steve and Jenny Johnston for being co-leaders of the group. It was their planning and knowledge of photographing the falls that led to a successful outing for everyone, and you can see more of their work here.
Of course, since it is fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains...not only waterfalls were photographed!
Especially when it's to take photos of an adorable couple like Sabrea and Eric!
Cullman Park in Ballantyne never disappoints, and it was a pleasure working with a couple that are about to start the next phase of their lives together, and wanted some photos to announce their engagement. Here's a teaser .....and thanks to them both for being such a wonderful couple to work with!
Is part of this iconic structure enough to tell you where? If not, read on! Well, read on anyway....
It was definitely time for a trip home, and this time during a season that didn't require several layers of clothing to keep warm. Still required waterproofs...but hey, it's England!
Even though I was born and raised in the southwest of England, when I go home now, I definitely feel I'm more of a tourist; so we go and travel to some of the tourist spots. And since it's so close, we decided to take a little detour to le Tour Eiffel...and a few other of Paris' landmarks. So here goes with some of the pictorial highlights!
Yes, the photos are showing more of our three days in Paris than two weeks in Britain. Blame that on the uninspiring greyness of the weather the Brits have to endure and the reason I left! Thankfully we had a sunny day in Tintagel...hey, one out of 16 isn't bad!!! Yeah....right...
What's next? Getting back to life in Charlotte with an exciting couple of photo tours with the Ballantyne Photo Club and a beginner's photography workshop around the corner. See you soon!
Last weekend was our first Ballantyne Photography Club Walk the Greenway event, and despite the rain we had a good turnout! Thanks to those of you that came and braved the weather.
Of course, with the clouds so dark and rain drifting through, we were pushing the limits of our cameras in some cases to get the photos we were looking for.
Before starting out, our group had a discussion about how to shoot in these conditions: set the white balance, set the ISO to 400 and shutter speed as high as we could without getting an under-exposure warning. As we were to find out, it was dark enough to warrant upping the ISO to 640 or 800 just to get in to the proximity of taking photos without camera shake being an issue.
Fortunately, most, if not all of us, had lenses with vibration reduction. As you know, I don't like shooting subjects over 400 ISO because of the potential to add noise to the image, but if you need the shot, you do what you need to do to get it!
At our first stop, we were lucky to spot a Great Heron who was happy to pose for us for quite a while! There was also a Green Heron tucked away in the branches of some trees, and there were encounters along the way that included a frog, another fishing Heron and a muskrat. That was a first! He was moving fast in the water, too, so composition took a little of a backstage just to record his presence.
Despite the rain, the group got some great photos, hopefully learned a lot about shooting in low light conditions, and made some great new friends along the way!
You can see more of the group's excellent photos here:
Just had our second meeting of the Ballantyne Photography Club and I just want to thank those of you that came. A big thank you, too, to those that submitted photos for our critique session. I was so pleased with the quality of the photos everyone took; it's fantastic to see the progress being made!
Also, I'd like to thank Tony from Cardinal Camera for doing a session on the importance of white balance and for the door prize! Next up.....
On July 19th is the walk along the greenway and on July 26th I'll be leading a group at the whitewater center to discuss action photos...and to reminisce, just a little! For details, go to the MeetUp button, or click the Classes & Tours tab at the top of the page!
There's more bubbling just around the corner, so stay tuned!
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