Firework Tips

With Your Phone or Camera

• Pick a good spot in advance: Before the fireworks even start, you should try to get yourself in a good position: staying upwind of the fireworks will keep the smokey aftermath of previous blasts from gumming up your shot. If you go to the same spot every year try different areas. I wander around sometimes because there is a carnival where I go and get some interesting foregrounds. 

• Stability: Remember, you're taking photos at night so a little bit of shakiness from slower shutter speeds can turn your photo into a blurry mess. Brace yourself against a picnic table or even sit down on the ground if possible. If you're in a crowd, get cozy with your neighbor for support. I used a little gorilla tripod wrapped around my fold up chair arm.

• Frame before you shoot: Figure out where in the sky fireworks are blowing up and position your phone in advance. You don't want to chase the shot, you want your phone to be in the right place already.

 Try shooting in bursts . Get that Multi shot going you may be off by half a second and last year I only got the one shot of fireworks and lightning.
Bring extra everything. Make sure you have everything charged and empty. Memory Batteries go quickly and you never know how long it will last and how many photos you want to take. I also bring all my cameras no matter what they are and hand them out to people who didn't bring a camera or when I run out of memory and don't have time to reload.  

• Use the AE/AF lock: Once your phone's in position, don't take your shot right away. On the iPhone and many Android phones tapping the screen locks in the exposure and focus for your shot. Use one firework for metering, and then take the photo of the next.

• Don't be afraid of portrait mode: Usually we loathe portrait mode, but here's one instance where it might capture a better photo. This is not an ordinary snapshot. Depending on the scenery and your perspective, both landscape and portrait photos might work well—heck even experiment with crooked angles to see what gets the best results.

Unusual Long Exposure Firework Photographs by David Johnson long exposure light fireworks color • Don't zoom Or Focus: We realize that the fireworks are SO FAR AWAY but the digital zoom on camera phones is only an illusion. Don't use it. You can always crop the photo later. Autofocus probably won’t be of any use to you and may actually interfere with your shots so I suggest just turning it off.  

Or try changing the zoom while taking the exposure like this  guy

• Keep it native: Speaking of later, third-party apps introduce additional lag to your phone's camera. Keep your timing sharp by using your built-in camera app, and upload it to Instagram later.

• Go video :Sometimes I'll just shoot video and later pause the video and do a screenshot of that. Way better than the standard blurry photo

Always use the lowest ISO setting & Highest Quality Setting
In the digital world; long exposures, higher ISO settings, and even higher temperatures can introduce noise into your digital photographs. You can’t avoid long exposures when shooting fireworks, but you can always choose a lower ISO setting. 200 worked for me.

 Review when you can but it can always wait till later. Reviewing helps you tweak your settings but once you get in the groove you need to conserve battery so keep that screen off as long as possible. 

• DPhoto Journal recommends three different aperture/ISO combinations that work for many circumstances.
• Digital Photography School instructs us that using "bulb mode" exposure will allow you to tweak the shutter speed perfectly.
• Photodoto really nails the practicality, instructing how to compensate your settings depending on the types of wonky shots you're capturing.


A photo taken in 1985 has resurfaced this week. Kelly Grovier looks at the power of a figure pushed to breaking point.

Some images never go out of date. They remain endlessly urgent. Where most viral photos enjoy a fleeting flash of fame, flaring up like a rash across social media, there is a cache of imperishable images that have lingered longer and strike a deeper chord. They stay forever part of the mind’s permanent collection of archetypal signs.
Predating by decades the instant-reaction platforms of Facebook and Twitter, an edgy image captured on the streets of Växjö, Sweden in April 1985 during a demonstration by the Neo-Nazi Nordic Reich Party succeeded (without today’s propulsive power of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’) to imprint itself on the cultural consciousness. Snapped at the instant when a Polish-Swedish passerby, whose mother had reportedly been sent to a Nazi concentration camp, could no longer contain her irritation at having to share civic space with fascists, the black-and-white photo of Danuta Danielsson clocking a Neo-Nazi with her handbag continues to resonate for many as a silent rallying cry.
This 1985 photo has resurfaced on social media this week (Credit: Hans Runesson)
This photo – taken in 1985 – has resurfaced on social media this week (Credit: Hans Runesson)
Over the past few weeks, amid a spate of protests in America and throughout Europe in response to the outcome of elections and referenda, the image of the 38-year-old Danielsson lashing out in full swat has experienced a fresh resurgence, accompanied by the call to arms: “Be the woman hitting a Neo Nazi with a handbag you wish to see in the world”. 
Inviting readers to debate when even mild forms of violence are socially acceptable, the photo – taken by Hans Runesson – belongs to a long tradition of depictions of female figures pushed to breaking point. Artemisia Gentileschi and Caravaggio both explored the subject in their respective portrayals of the gruesome biblical story of Judith, who beheaded an Assyrian general planning to destroy the city of Bethulia. The Baroque painter Elisabetta Sirani was likewise drawn to Plutarch’s story of Timoclea, who pushes the man who raped her into a well.
(Credit: British Library)
The Luttrell Psalter intertwined biblical illustrations with scenes of ordinary life (Credit: British Library)
Long before these more famous scenes of female vengeance is the vision of quiet come-uppance meted out by a spinning rod-swinging wife on her abusive husband found in the 14th-Century manuscript The Luttrell Psalter, a sacred tome that innovatively intertwines biblical illustrations with scenes of ordinary life. The Medieval wallop doodled in the margins of the Psalter seems more a display of exasperation than a lethal blow. Created in an age when it was legal for a husband to beat his wife, the illustration is more courageous than slapstick. Like the photo of Danielsson, it sticks in the mind as an illustration of the difference between behaviour we might understand and behaviour we can applaud.


Revealing stories of “The Trans List”

His photos are reflections of the dreams and aspirations of people who’ve felt marginalized for far too long. Serena Altschul introduces us to the photographer, and his subjects:
In Los Angeles this past September, the red carpet was rolled out at the Annenberg Space for Photography for an unusual guest list: the stars of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ latest project, titled “The Trans List.”
Greenfield-Sanders trains his lens on the transgender community, and catalogs their stories in a film that airs on HBO this Monday.
“My films are my portraits come to life,” said Greenfield-Sanders. “They’re that plain backdrop, that direct-to-camera gaze, that simplicity.”
Some of the stories you may have heard, like Caitlyn Jenner’s:
“Every journey has its struggle. ... Going from a very positive masculine figure to what a lot of people perceive a feminine, weak figure. Publically. Not easy to do.”
Greenfield-Sanders said, “What Caitlyn did was allow men in particular who loved Bruce Jenner, who respected Bruce Jenner, to all of a sudden think differently. This was an incredibly important moment.”
But no less important are the stories that you may not have heard, like that of British actress, model and former “Bond Girl” Caroline Cossey.
“After I was outed by the News of the World, I felt desperate. Suicidal. It really wasn’t anyone’s business. And it should have been left to me if I wanted to talk about it.”
“Our culture has these kind of boxes of, you know, what a man should be and what a woman should be,” Greenfield-Sanders said, “And I think certainly, in the last 40 years, the gay rights movement has made people more aware that it’s not so simple”
Capturing the complexity of the American identity has become something of a specialty for Greenfield-Sanders.  He has been capturing powerful portraits of race, gender and sexuality in photographs and film for the last ten years.
In 2006, he and author Toni Morrison hatched the idea to photograph renowned African Americans -- a series of photographs and films titled “The Black List.” That work was exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery. 
Other lists followed: “The Latino List,” “The Out List,” “The Women’s List” … an unconventional body of work for an artist that fell into photography almost by accident, as a film student in Los Angeles.
“They needed someone for the school to just kind of take snapshots of the visiting dignitaries -- you would see every film for two weeks by Bette Davis, and then Bette Davis would come,” he recalled to Altschul. “But she said, ‘What the f**k are you doing shooting from below?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’  And she said, ‘Well, if you can drive a car, I’ll teach you about photography, young man.’
“And I drove her around for a week. I’d pick her up in the morning and we would drive to her agent’s and have a nice Bloody Mary about 10:30. And she would then talk about these great Hollywood photographers and how they would light her and how light should be set for her face. And it got me more and more interested in portraiture.”
Newly-wed and fresh out of film school, the budding artist moved to New York City’s East Village in 1978. “So we ended up luckily buying this building, a 1905 neo-Gothic German Roman Catholic rectory that we bought from the archdiocese.”
The former priest’s home became his studio.
“People ask, ‘What’s your favorite photo or your favorite?” It’s not really ever that. They’re all kind of great experiences. You know, with Patti Smith or with Victor Cruz or Alan Cummings, those times on this set in this room, in this building were special.
Greenfield-Sanders says the difficulty of working with an antique camera made him a better photographer. “It forced me to think about what the portrait was, rather than just shoot and hope I get something,” he said. “There’s something about large format that’s so beautiful -- the fine art print side of it and the complicatedness of it. And it became kind of a signature, really, for me.”
A signature camera -- and a remarkable career. 


Holiday photos

Here are a few links on taking the best photos for the holidays.

  • Use a tripod:
  • One with the flash one without
  • Have good Lighting
  • Take lots of pictures
  •  Don't wait until one shoot early in the countdown
  •  Simple backgrounds
  • Don’t stress your lens-type
  • Get close to your subject:
  • Use the timer on your camera [or a remote]:
  • Check your histogram:
  • Experiment:

  • Keep Your Shutter Speed Above 1/80

    The biggest culprit of bad snapshots is motion-blur. If you are shooting in low light without a flash, most cameras in auto will choose a shutter speed that is way too low. Move to shutter priority mode ("S" on most cameras) and just keep it at 1/100. Many say 1/60 is good enough, but 1/100 is a safer bet amidst the chaos of a family gathering.

    Shoot in bursts

    If you are taking candids, it can be hard to capture the one split-second where the baby cracks a smile. Use your camera's burst mode and fire off 3 or 4 shots so you don't miss the magic moment.

    Get candid

    This is fairly obvious, but well-done candids are always more memorable than posed portraits. If you think about it, it's kind of creepy having dozens of shots of people grinning wide-eyed at the camera. Candids are harder, however, and you have to take a lot to have a good set of keepers. So don't be shy.

    Get back!

    Everyone focuses on faces and smiles, usually at the neglect of the bigger picture. Step back and snap a couple of nice wide shots of the entire room full of people—far enough away to hide your drunk uncle's drool and your grandmother's creepy stares.

    Break People's Bad Picture Habits

    Some people have a gut reaction whenever they see a camera pointed at them to look at it, freeze, and smile. If your subjects do this, don't take their picture! Either politely lower your camera until they resume doing less contrived things—or simply tell them to stop it.

    Use fast prime lenses

    Most traditional holiday activities are indoors and in dim light. In these conditions, fast prime lenses (f/1.2-f/1.8) will let you take better images without resorting to that 1,000,000 ISO setting with more noise than photo. Also, you will be able to achieve those great shallow depth-of-field shots that make any family photo album look pro. If you can, have a good wide angle and a good medium-telephoto lens on hand.

    Shoot scenery and decor

    Again, you gotta move past boring ol' faces. A set of photos should tell a story, and that includes the locale, the decor, the food, the weather. ALL OF IT.


    Why Time’s Trump Cover Is a Subversive Work of Political Art

    This year, it should come as no surprise that President-elect Donald Trump was chosen to grace the cover of Time’s annual issue (shot by Jewish photographer Nadav Kander). “For better or worse,” Trump, during his campaign and now after his election, has certainly been among the greatest influences on the events of the year. For clues as to how Time feels about that question — is it “for better or worse?” — we can look to the image chosen for the cover of the issue. The decisions that Time made regarding how to photograph Trump reveal a layered, nuanced field of references that place the image among, in this viewer’s opinion, the magazine’s greatest covers. In order to deconstruct the image, let’s focus on three key elements (leaving aside the placement of the ‘M’ in ‘Time’ that makes it look like Trump has red horns): the color, the pose, and the chair:

    The Color
    Notice how the colors appear slightly washed out, slightly muted, soft. The palette creates what we might call a vintage effect. ...namely, Kodachrome. Kodachrome, It was immensely popular between the late 30’s and 70s, and its distinctive look defines our common visual concept of nostalgia.
     Trump ran a campaign based on regressive policies and attitudes — anti-environmental protection, anti-abortion, pro-coal, etc.... also about traditional values (defined primarily by the Christian right), about nostalgia for American greatness and security, about nostalgia for a pre-globalized world.
    The Pose
    Trump’s pose can be read as a subversive play on a traditional power-portrait pose.....
    The Lincoln Memorial ...We see our subject head on, ...The angle forces us to look up at the subject, which in turn creates the impression that the subject is looking down at us. This pose and angle,... makes the subject appear dominant, powerful, judging.
    On the Time cover, instead of seeing Trump head on and from below, we see him seated from behind and roughly at eye level. The power relation has shifted entirely.
    Trump’s turn towards the camera renders the tone conspiratorial rather than judgmental. ... By choosing not to shoot Trump head on, the Time cover almost offers us a “behind the scenes” glimpse of the man who has spent so much of his time in front of the camera..The highly posed and processed nature of the photograph offers yet another level of irony.
    Finally, we must note the ominous shadow lurking on the backdrop. It’s a small, but important and clever detail. Just as this image provides us with two theoretical points of view, it also provides us with two Trumps — Trump the president-elect, and the specter of Trump the president, haunting in the wings, waiting to take form.
    The Chair
    The masterstroke, the single detail that completes the entire image, is the chair. Trump is seated in what looks to be a vintage “Louis XV” chair ....The chair not only suggests the blindly ostentatious reigns of the French kings just before the revolution, but also, more specifically, the reign of Louis XV who, according to historian Norman Davies, “paid more attention to hunting women and stags than to governing the country” and whose reign was marked by “debilitating stagnation,” “recurrent wars,” and “perpetual financial crisis” (sound familiar?).
    ...It’s a gaudy symbol of wealth and status, but if you look at the top right corner, you can see a rip in the upholstery, signifying Trump’s own cracked image. ....— the entire illusion of grandeur begins to collapse. The cover is less an image of a man in power than the freeze frame of a leader, and his country, in a state of decay. The ghostly shadow works overtime here — suggesting a splendor that has already passed, if it ever existed at all.
    .... like “The Picture of Dorian Gray” suggests more than just a physical deterioration.
    As a photograph, it’s a rare achievement. As a cover, it’s a statement.


    Thin Lines Between Coincidence, Plagiarism, and Inspiration


    When is an idea just coincidental and when is it stealing. There have been many waves of themes in art that sometimes make you think was this a unconscious hive mind thought or did one company hear about it and create the same thing to compete.

    Examples of the supposed hive mind happen a lot in entertainment current events have that effect and making money is the producers goal.

    Remember Dantes peak and Volcano
    Image credit: MovieGoods.com / ReleaseDonkey.com

    There are Tons of examples of the hive mind at work

    Then you have people who reference other artwork or depending who you talk to rip it off. My college friend refused to talk about the Lion King because her favorite show was Kimba the white Lion

    Or Disney copies their own work

    Is it an homage to the days of old laziness (animation is expensive) no clue
    there are many famous artworks out there that everyone has seen and have imprinted on their minds. Composition mathematics causes artists to make similar decisions because it is pleasing to the eye. Pantone 448 C, declared the world's ugliest color, is not going to be used anytime soon.

    The most recent example is this article . Ankur Patar was hired by Adobe as part of a campaign to show off their stock photo collection. His task was to recreate "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee," a 1633 painting by Rembrandt that was stolen in 1990 and never recovered. Using only stock images, Patar was able to create a remarkable imitation; you can see his process here on his website

    an artist in the Fstoppers Community had posted his own recreation of the exact same Rembrandt painting six months prior to Adobe's new ad campaign. Although Joël Vegt's version was a bit more humorous, the resemblance was rather uncanny.

    Read more on how this story turns out

    The long and short of it we really never know what happens in the artists mind. It is up to us to police ourselves and do what we believe to be morally right. The golden rule still applies and if you had this happen to you it is a difficult position to be in. Keep records of your work date, photograph, watermark, hide little clues like old mapmakers of the past and know if your art is stolen and you can't do anything about it you are still good enough for someone to want to take credit for your work. Make more art better that what they stole challenge them to online. Never stop or they'll really win



    The Falling man and facing what really happened

    While the towers were still smoldering memories of that day were being altered, sanitized, edited for those we thought to shelter from the horror. 15 years later teenagers and even adults to lived during that time are unaware of the great impact it had and make light of it. It was called our Pearl harbor by my classmates in high school. A college friend heard this in class and knew their aunt must be dead. Another friend introduced me to the former security member of Logan airport from that day. My father took many business trips and had no clue if he could have been on one of those planes till I got home, no cell phones. There was fear, confusion, and a jumble of information. I did not register or know that people were forced to fall from the towers till a documentary was made a year later.

    At least 200 people are believed to have fallen or jumped to their deaths that day while other estimates say the number is half of that or fewer.[1][2][3  The photograph initially appeared in newspapers around the world, including on page 7 of The New York Times on September 12, 2001. The photo's caption read "A person falls headfirst after jumping from the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was a horrific sight that was repeated in the moments after the planes struck the towers."[7] It appeared only once in the Times because of criticism and anger against its use.[8] Six years later, it appeared on page 1 of The New York Times Book Review on May 27, 2007.[9]
     History books have a paragraph here or there and that's it. Though it is natural to deny terrible things to protect our emotions. We must face everything that happened or we will learn nothing it is only then that those that died will not have done so in vain. 


    Victoria’s Secret retoucher reveals her techniques

    A former Victoria’s Secret retoucher recently spilled the tricks of the trade to Refinery29,

    1. Retouching existed long before Photoshop.
    sometimes the color of a shirt doesn’t translate well when photographed, and the retoucher fixes it to show the accurate shade.You want something to pop more go ahead. "And then this thing just spiraled out of control.”
    2. Body “fixing” starts on set.
     says Sarah. “I don’t think I ever was on a shoot with a model that had real hair.” Next, pads to alter the model’s breast size and body shape. Ears glued down and of course the spray on tan.
     “They put a push-up bra under the bathing suit. And we retouch out the bra...a lot of [staffers] would complain because they even did it with strapless stuff. When you're wearing a strapless bikini, in no way, shape, or form [can] you have cleavage. It’s physically impossible with the way gravity works.” it’s barely her body anymore.
    3. No one’s [insert any body part] looks like that.
    Next comes the digital alteration: The bra gets taken out, and the nipples erased. Sarah was often asked to make breasts rounder, higher, perfectly symmetrical, and of course, larger (“they all have [size] A’s,” she says.)

    “Everyone has blue hands and blue feet,” says Sarah. That’s just the way extremities show up in a picture. Furthermore, everyone’s armpits turn gray on camera. No matter how closely you shave, you’ll have a shadow, she says. And many of the models she worked with didn’t bother even shaving:  They all have stubbly pubes — all the normal stuff [non-models have].”

     “Models are thinner than you actually think they are, and we retouch them to look rounder.” Sarah routinely plumped up butts, hid protruding ribcages, and softened sharp hipbones under digital flesh. “We have to curve them out.”
    4. So, why not just hire “curvier” models?
    Because they don’t sell. Here’s where the business of beautifying gets even uglier. During Sarah’s time at Victoria’s Secret, “they tried different models and different body types all the time.” Consumers just didn’t respond.

    “One time, during a swim season, they had these two girls come in that had abs and thick thighs and busts. They were really toned and their skin was amazing. They were still obviously models. But they were a different look. But, they didn’t sell anything and so they stopped using those girls.”

    This is what Sarah means when she says “we’re choosing this” — if consumers responded positively with their dollars to less conventionally shaped models, brands would use them more in imagery.

    5. In the end, it’s just about selling.
    “The reason people retouch bodies is because they're just trying to sell you something,”
    6. It’s not just one industry. It’s all of them.

    Take Instagram, for example. “Just a reminder, fitspo pictures aren't a real thing,” says Sarah. Even when they’re not retouched (which she says they often are), Sarah points out that they’re using the same lighting and posing tricks used on a professional shoot. “And, when you're manipulating the light and the camera angle like that, that’s technically retouching, because you're manipulating something to look as if it's something it's really, truly not in real life.”

    And just as straight-size models get plumped up, plus-size models get slimmed and smoothed. “Anything to make [them] look delicate,” says Sarah. Not just waists, but wrists and ankles are taken in. “They make the neck more narrow because that is a very female, delicate thing to have.”

    Even worse, child models are subjected to the same manipulations.  "‘Can you make this 9-year-old look less tired?’”

    It seems extreme, but it’s utterly standard.

    8. Sometimes “fixing” is really “swapping.”
    “There's a lot of the switching bodies up,” says Sarah. She gives a common example: “‘Can you change these arms with a different girl's arms, because her arms are making it look like she's, like, picking her butt’ — or something.” Awkward gestures are often fixed this way. “A lot of the time, retouching isn't about trying to make a body look ideal, but also to avoid criticism of the image.”

    9. Some things are changing — and some may never change.

    “I won't take in waists anymore. I refuse to do that,” she says.  Teeth and eyeball whitening. “Nobody has really white eyes” she says.”

    Still, there are some standard practices she doesn’t see leaving anytime soon. Just as nearly every model has acne, cellulite, and stretch marks (Sarah's reminder: “You don’t get 6 feet tall during puberty without having stretch marks.”), every retoucher knows to remove them.

     Most of her clients ask for her to lift them a bit, “which is, like, okay. It's not the worst thing in the world. I'm not copying and pasting boobs. At least I'm not doing that. I'll take it.”

    While Sarah’s glad to see pushback within her industry, she knows that the bigger battle is changing consumer hearts and minds — even her own. “I ordered a Victoria's Secret swimsuit this summer. And then I got it and, of course, it wasn’t as cute as in the photo. I'm the one retouching this stuff and I'm still not immune to marketing. It's incredible.”