Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gallery Opening at Penn Camera Laurel - James Roy

Join us!
Gallery Opening for Photographer James Roy
Penn Camera Laurel
Friday, January 15th
5:00pm - 7:00pm

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Photographer James Roy will be exhibiting a variety of fine art images in his gallery opening on the 15th.

“There are artists who transform the sun into a yellow spot, and there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow dot into the sun” (Picasso). Photographer James Roy is such an artist. His work provides viewers with glimpses of new meaning into everyday experiences and makes the ordinary extraordinary. James Roy has the unusual talent of creating fine art from many different types of subject matter. In this Penn Camera Gallery exhibit, he displays a variety of fine art images, including wedding, panoramic landscapes, cityscapes, architecture and The Carnival of Venice, Italy.

A sampling of images from the show!

James’ photographic work reflects over 25 years of professional and personal experience. His formal training is recognized through membership in the Maryland Professional Photographer’s Association (MDPPA), Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and American Society of Photographers (ASP). He has received numerous MDPPA Best-In-Show prints, PPA loan collection prints and Fuji Masterpiece and Kodak Gallery Awards. He holds the following internationally recognized PPA degrees: Masters, Craftsman. He also holds the prestigious title of PPA International Photographer of the Year in 2008. His wedding images have been published and featured on the covers of various regional wedding journals and in PPA’s “Professional Photographer” magazine. His fine art images are part of many private and public collections in the United States and Europe.

While servicing three years as a bilingual US Army NATO Liaison officer in northeastern Italy, James began the first of a series of photographic fine art portfolios. Over the past 25 years, he has had numerous solo fine art photo exhibits, including a 4-year exhibit in Venice, Italy. He continues to make annual pilgrimages to Italy, the Caribbean, and the American west. He has a rare talent of creating photographic art from diverse subject matter, and he has amassed numerous world class, eclectic fine art bodies of work including:

The Carnival of Venice, Italy
Staircases of the World
Landscapes of the American Southwest
Reflections Around Us
Weddings as Fine Art
Cityscapes & Architecture of Italy
The Beauty of Butterflies
Flowers in the Wild
Dazzling DC
“The Fine Art of Portraiture”

Join us for this electic exhibition! See more or James Roy's work at http://www.jamesroyphotography.com/.

Would you like to host your own Gallery at Penn? Highlight and exhibit your, or your student's finest artwork with a Gallery at a Penn Camera store. High School students, College students, Amateurs & Professionals welcomed. Email us for information.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Photographing Holiday Lights

Here is an article written by a great photography resource, Elliot Stern from Blue Ridge Workshops. So tonight, bundle up, and take advantage of the beautiful holiday light displays your friends and neighbors have errected. Happy Holidays!

by Elliot Stern, Blue Ridge Workshops

Holiday lights and decorations always provide us with wonderful seasonal subjects to photograph, but how to photograph them can be a challenge for a lot of people so I hope this short list of things to do will help those who need a push in the right direction.

A tripod is a must. That is all I am going to say about tripods.

My recommendation is a camera that allows adjustments of shutter speeds and apertures, with shutter speed being most important. This can be a Dslr, Hdslr, or a Bridge type camera that allows these adjustments. There are some point and shoots that give you control in this area too.

The best time of day for shooting lights and displays is while there is still a little bit of daylight left. Shooting in total darkness is not at all recommended. Just before sunset is a good idea, but remember that the lighting will change very quickly. Shooting at this time of day allows you to silhouette the background, giving an identifiable background.

For available light photography (no flash) a good starting point is probably around about ½ second, lens wide opened and then work from that speed to achieve the effect you like. Probably the best general setting for iso is your cameras base iso 100,200 in most cameras, but as good as your cameras are at higher iso’s I would not stretch to far beyond this limit. Noise can still be an issue in very dark or close to dark situations no matter how well the spec numbers appear in the literature. There is also a provision in some cameras which is high iso long exposure noise reduction. This allows you to shoot long exposures at high iso and get rid of noise issues to some degree, but it takes a long time in camera to process. It is not good if lights and decorations are blowing in the wind. Another method which is available in a lot of cameras today is the ability to set in the menus, a dynamic range increase providing detail in highlights and shadows. In Nikon it is called D-Lighting, in Olympus it is called Graduation, and in Canon it is Highlight Tone Priority and Automatic Lighting Optimizer.

If you have an adjustable type of camera then it is more than likely that you have a provision for controlling the flash on your camera, or with an add on flash called SLOW SYNCH. In this mode the camera is permitted to go to very slow shutter speeds to record the ambient light in the background. The flash fires to record the foreground and then the shutter stays opened long enough to record the background light. It is great for doing portraits or groups in front of the lights and decorations. REMEMBER, SLOW SYNCH MEANS YOU MUST BE USING A TRIPOD.

One more word about flash is if you are in a home setting, and your ceiling is no more than 10' high, you should consider using bounce flash. Even better, use a Gary Fong flash accessory for a nice even soft light. CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON THE GARY FONG ACCESSORIES and CHECK WITH PENN CAMERA WHICH WOULD BE BEST FOR THE EQUIPMENT YOU OWN.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

EXTENDED HOURS - 12/22 and 12/23

The snow storm this weekend knocked us all off course for finishing up our Christmas shopping. So, to help you get back on track, Penn Camera is extending our hours, today and tomorrow only.

All suburban stores - Open Until 10pm 12/22 and 12/23
DC stores - Open Until 7pm 12/22 and 12/23

Also, on Christmas Eve, suburban stores are open until 6pm, and DC stores are open until 5pm.

We want to give you a little more time to find those final gifts (or for some of you, to give you a chance to get started.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Olympus E-P1 (the “Pen”)

The Olympus E-P1 (the “Pen”) digital camera gives you the portability expected in a compact digital camera along with the great picture quality of a DSLR. Somewhere in between, the E-P1 is an interesting camera choice for photographers of all levels.

The E-P1 reminds me of a DSLR in many ways, but lacks a key feature – a viewfinder. A problem? Not really. The Pen has a large display for composing your shots without the need for viewing through-the-lens. If this is a feature you feel that you really can’t live without, Olympus introduced the second generation in this series, the E-P2, that includes a detachable electronic viewfinder. You will be paying a premium for this feature, so buyers will need to decide for themselves if this is a must-have. Having the option, should you need it, is definitely a plus!

You’re not going to miss out on image quality either – 12.3 megapixels ensures that the E-P1 is robust as many other mid-range digital cameras. Other helpful features – interchangeable lenses, cool artistic filters built right into the camera, and a slick design that reminds me of classic rangefinders.

Overall take – this camera is really fun to use. While it isn’t the all-in-one solution for everyone, its flexibility and compact design makes this is a great option for location scouting, vacations, and maybe even the casual photo blog you keep thinking about starting. Need to get your hands on one? Come down to the stores and try one first hand. This one is definitely going on my wish list this Christmas.

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We're back!

After a bit of delay, the Penn Camera blog is up and running again! In the next few weeks, we'll be sharing camera reviews to help you get to know some interesting gear. First up - the Olympus E-P1.

Monday, September 28, 2009

“You Go into Photography with the Camera You Have, Not the Camera You WISH You Had….”
By E. David Luria, Founder and Director, Washington Photo Safari

You’re attending a photography workshop when you look around. You have the impression that everybody else has a bigger, better camera than yours--longer lens, newer, more expensive, more features. You have Lens Envy! You feel inadequate! Tail between your legs, you slink back home to engage in your other hobby—cooking. You prepare a great meal and serve it to your friends. They love the food, and one of them says, “Gee, that was delicious! How did you do that? You must have a great OVEN.” You pause for a moment, thinking, “A great oven?” As politely as possible, you say, “It’s not the oven. It’s me. I just know what I’m doing. It’s the cook who makes a great meal, not the oven.” What’s true for cooking is also true for photography.

Great pictures are created by photographers, not cameras. If Ansel Adams were alive today, and we gave him a five-dollar disposable camera to shoot pictures of a canyon or a waterfall or a city, he’d come back with beautiful images. Why? Because he knew what he was doing behind the lens.

Cameras, no matter how expensive they are, are merely boxes that let in light. It’s the photographer who aims the camera to capture the subject at the right time, in the right light, and--as Henri Cartier Bresson would say--at the “decisive moment.” Good photography is about composition, determining the subject of the picture, removing clutter from the background, finding the right angle, getting close, and looking for strong composition lines to run through the image to create a picture that clearly tells a story, gives a message, or conveys an impression.

If telephoto zooms and wide-angle lenses are so important, why did Henri Cartier Bresson capture all his most famous images with a simple 50mm lens? If autofocus and matrix metering and six-frame-per-second shutters are so important, why is it that Joe Rosenthal caught his famous Marine Corps flag-raising on Mt. Suribachi in perfect alignment with one push of the button on an old Speed Graphic? If color quality is so important, why are the classic photographs that are most seared in our memory mainly in black and white?

As a photography instructor, I’ve trained several thousand people how to take better pictures with any kind of camera--film or digital. One of my favorite clients arrived on a photo safari loaded down with about $4,000 worth of expensive camera gear draped around his neck. He explained, “I just looked at what the professional photographers use and got myself the same stuff.” He figured the equipment would help him take better pictures. It didn’t. Bigger, better cameras give you more options. They give you longer zooms, wider angles, faster and slower shutter speeds, more control over exposure and color filtration--but not necessarily better pictures.

The first step in taking good pictures is, of course, defining the subject. What’s the point of this picture? Why are you taking it? What are you trying to show? Who is the “client” for this picture? An architect? A nature-lover? The child’s parents? A magazine editor? If you’re your own client, what use do you have in mind for the picture? A family album? An e-mail to friends? You need to have a clear purpose. Next, pick a time of day when you have the best light. For outdoor pictures, this is generally an hour on either side of sunrise or sunset and never any time in between. After determining the purpose, get close to your subject. Eliminate any distraction in the background, so who or what the picture is about is clear to the viewer.

A low angle helps you become more intimately involved with your subject, whether it’s a baby, a flower, a spouse, a cat, or a landscape. Next, look for strong composition lines that draw the viewer’s eye into and around the picture. Lines that move diagonally from lower left to upper right, or upper left to lower right, tie in with our Western cultural training of reading from left to right. Look for lines that lead the viewer’s eye to the main subject, which should NOT be right in the middle but in the left or right or upper or lower third of the picture. Then, look for opportunities to frame your subject using tree branches, archways, doorways, flagpoles, church columns, or any other available frame. Flowers or bushes on the bottom of your picture provide a frame of color. Now, check your exposure. This step is very important. No matter how smart your fancy double-matrix, triple-bypass camera meter is, it knows only what it sees. Make sure it’s reading a medium-gray reflectance on your subject, a mid-point between black and white. If in doubt, use a gray card or a hand-held ambient light meter.Then, check the depth-of-field of focus. Do you want the subject to stand out and have the background blurred? Use a wide aperture. Want everything in focus from front to back? Use a small aperture. Here’s a handy way to remember aperture. At F2, you get two people in focus. At F22, you get 22 people in focus. (Point-and-shoot camera users should look at the “Portrait” and “Landscape” icons on their control dial to achieve this same effect.)

Ready to take the picture? Make sure you’re holding the camera correctly, resting the body of the camera on the palm of your left hand, wrapping your left hand’s fingers underneath and around the lens, holding it very tightly to reduce camera shake. Better yet, use a tripod.Wait! Before you push the button, make sure you like what you see. What you see in the viewfinder is the way your image is going to look. Do you like it? Okay, push the button. More importantly, if you don’t like it, DON’T push the button! Lastly, look at all the pictures you’ve taken and remember that your worst pictures are your best teachers. Learn from your mistakes, so you won’t repeat them.

As a photography instructor who works in the political capital of my country, I’m a strong advocate of two official positions:
  • First, I urge my clients to adopt my official position on photography--which is to lie on the ground where all the good pictures are.
  • Second, I tell them that in the Luria Administration, we are opposed to “Faith-Based Photography,” that can be expressed as “I will take 500 pictures on this trip and pray that ten of them come out.” That wing-and-a-prayer approach to photography results in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Only ten pictures come out.
If elected, my Administration favors “Confidence-Based Photography” in which you’re careful to define the subject, get the best light and exposure, frame the image carefully in good composition lines, check focus and depth-of-field, hold the camera correctly, and push the button at JUST the right moment! With that approach, all 500 pictures should come out, causing your friends and family to gasp, “What? You took that picture with that camera?”

E. David Luria is a professional architectural and commercial photographer in Washington DC. A member of the American Society of Media Photographers and the Society of Photographic Educators, he has had his images of the nation’s capital appear in 100 publications, including TIME, Prevention, WHERE/Washington, Washingtonian, the Washington Post, and the Entertainment Book, and on the covers of 30 magazines. Trained in Paris by a protégé of Henri Cartier Bresson, he is also founder and director of the Washington Photo Safari (www.WashingtonPhotoSafari.com) through which he and his fellow instructors have trained over 16,500 clients since 1999 in the techniques of travel and landmark photography, nature and pet photography, and outdoor portraiture. He thanks former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for inspiring the title of this article.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Get Closer

Options For Shooting Macro!

Macro photography can be done with dedicated macro lenses, diopters that attach to the front of a lens or extension tubes. Dedicated macro lenses will produce the best results with edge-to-edge sharpness that you can't get any other way. They are the most expensive option, but certainly the best of the options available to us. Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina all make wonderful macro lenses. (Nikon's designated macro lenses are called Micro).

Diopters are available as single element or two element. The two element diopters produce much better results and are more expensive than the single element design diopters but you will be much happier with the results. Nikon and Canon both make wonderful two element diopters in a variety of diameters for your lenses. All you have to do is screw this lens to the front of your lens just like a filter. It magnifies the image and allows you to get closer to the subject than you could with the lens alone. Canon's lenses are designated 500D and 250D. The numbers represent the focal length of the diopter. With the 500D you are 500mm from the subject and with the 250D you are 250mm from the subject. Thus the 250D gives you twice the magnification. Both of these work well on any manufactures lens or camera as well as on camcorders.
Photo by Wil Hershberger.

Extension tubes are "free" magnification. By placing an extension tube between the camera and
Photo by Wil Hershberger
the lens you allow the lens to focus closer than it can on its own. However, you will lose the ability to focus to infinity but, when was the last time you were doing macro photography where you were focused at infinity? Canon's extension tubes retain all of the automatic functions of the lens as well as auto focus. Nikon's extension tubes retain all but the ability to auto focus. Kenko makes extension tubes for Nikon camera and lenses that retain all of the auto functions as well as auto focus.

Typically, when doing macro photography you will want to use manual focus. This gives you precise control of the plane of focus on your subject and you don't need to have an auto focus sensor right over you subject allowing for more thoughtful compositions.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Keep your verticals straight!

A photo tip from the founder of the Washington Photo Safari and well known Architectural Photographer, E. David Luria.

Do you have LBS?
It is a medical condition even more prevalent than swine flu! Known as Leaning Building Syndrome, it appears in your building pictures: when you lean back to take the picture, the vertical sides of the building converge in toward the top, an optical phenomenon known as "keystoning."

This is not good! Buildings have straight sides! Elevators do not travel upwards at an angle!

Here is a quick and dirty way the way to keep your building sides straight without dabbling in Photoshop adjustments:

1) use a wide angle lens, preferably a 12-20mm on an SLR (DX format), or an 18-24mm on an FX format camera.

2) Back up as far back as you need to go, preferably across, the street, keeping the camera PERFECTLY level with the ground, NOT leaning back, until you get the top of the building and the nice sky above it in the photo. (A tripod with a level is the best way to do this). Check to make sure the vertical edges of the building are PERFECTLY parallel to the vertical edges of your viewfinder.

3) Take the picture, and then, on the computer, crop out the street or grass at the bottom of the photo, giving you a square or rectangular format photo with a perfectly straight building.

We are happy to have David as one of our instructors at Penn Camera. He is teaching such popular Safaris as the Monuments at Night, Photography as a Second Career, the Fransiscan Monastery, and Regan National Airport Safari just to name a few. Check our website soon as we will be announcing some exciting new Safaris that you won't want to miss.

To find out more about the Washington Photo Safari, visit, www.WashingtonPhotoSafari.com

Facebook responds to image ownership controversy

In Response to overwhelming negative feedback Facebook has reversed course on its claim of ownership to members images
ASMP has sent the statement below regarding the Facebook user information policy decision this week to media outlets nationally, including newspapers, television, radio, business publications, photography trade publications, and wire services. We are asking our membership to support our position and to be vigilant about the terms and conditions governing the sites you patronize. You can also be involved through blogging and talking about the issues. Blogs have formed including Facebook Owns Your Photos and The People Against the New Terms of Service. Other blogs include The Consumerist, an advocacy blog, news blogs etc. ASMP is also coordinating with the Copyright Alliance, who will use our statement on its blog.

ASMP Responds to Recent FACEBOOK Decision to Reverse User Information Policy

ASMP applauds the decision of Facebook to reverse its recent policy change concerning ownership of user information. We encourage other networking sites to review the ownership issues raised and how this may impact members and users.

The important subject of copyright ownership of uploaded material has been underscored by the outcry from thousands who were galvanized by Facebook’s new Terms of Use language granting itself permanent rights to users’ photos, posts and other information – even after accounts were closed. We are pleased that Facebook reported on Wednesday it would delay changes while it works to resolve “the issues people have raised.”

ASMP hopes that the Facebook licensing controversy will bring attention to the important issue of image ownership and control. We encourage our 7,000 + media photographer members across the country to inquire about the terms and conditions of the sites they utilize, and we have asked them to patronize only those who respect the rights of creators to have their work valued and protected.

ASMP is the leading trade association for photographers who create images primarily for publication. ASMP has 39 chapters across the country and over 7,000 members including the world’s premier photographers. Founded in 1944, ASMP is a leader in promoting photographers’ rights, providing education in better business practices, producing business publications for photographers, and helping to connect purchasers with professional photographers