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Rhino at zoo

From Don Peters/ DPA instructor in Chicago To view more of his images please visit Catching this rhino, moving about his mostly contrived zoo enclosure was a tough one.  Fortunately, I was able to finally position myself in such a way as to eliminate the “clutter” of the man-made artifacts in the background (and foreground), to give the shot a more natural look.  Also, the “gesture” of the animal made this shot, as this mighty and bulky beast took a moment to lower himself on one foreleg, reminded me of a portly old man reverently genuflecting in church.  (Nikon D300 with 18-200mm Nikkor lens at 180mm, ISO 400, 1/500 at f/4.5)  

Capturing Fireworks

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit I am a big believer in pre-visualizing photos and then executing them.  Even if your pre-visualization isn’t perfect, it gives you purpose and lets you actively plan for a shot instead of reacting to what’s around you.  In this case, I knew that for the fourth of July, San Francisco would have a big fireworks show downtown, and the forecast was (unusually) fog-free.  That meant I had a chance to create a unique image of San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge (the most distinctive icon that immediately screams “San Francisco” to a viewer) and fireworks.  I knew of a good spot in the Marin headlands and arrived hours in advance, expecting a crowd and wanting a parking spot.  A lot of photography involves patience!  I framed this shot up before the fireworks started balancing where the bridge is and where I roughly estimated the fireworks would be, based on what I saw in the paper.  To shoot, I put my camera in bulb mode, held a piece of cardboard in front of the lens between fireworks bursts, and exposed each image for 2-3 firework bursts.  While the fireworks are a tad over-exposed, I still like the shot because of how the intense brightness and shapes from the falling embers contrasts with the darkness in the rest of the frame, just like when you see fireworks with your naked eye. Canon EOS 1Ds with Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L at 35mm on a tripod.  f/5.6, 8 sec, ISO 200.  

Finding a Crowd

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit A small change in perspective can make a big impact in the photos we create.  The San Francisco Ferry Building is often quite crowded during the Saturday morning farmers market, but when you’re down in it the crowd, it’s tough to capture the feeling you have of being there.  By finding stairs to a second floor, I was able to find a unique perspective, looking down at the crowd and showing how dense it was.  However, if I just took this with a regular lens, even at a small f-number, the crowd would read as a texture and the photo would lack a subject.  Instead, I used a Lens Baby to bring selective focus to just one part of the crowd, specifically an area squished in the middle of the crowd.  This blurred the crowd in such a way that it didn’t read as a texture (some is blurred and some isn’t), and it makes it clear that the focus of the photo (pardon the pun) is the crazy crowd.  Additionally, the lines in the wall converge, further brining your attention to the in-focus area. Canon EOS 1D MkIV with Lens Baby Composer.  f/4, 1/60 sec, ISO 400  

Bridges and Fog

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit Even though Mark Twain never actually said the coldest winter he’d ever had was a summer in San Francisco, the near-daily fog does make for some cold summers.  And some beautiful pictures!  The bay area’s geography is also unique in that there are hills in the east bay, and the hills are often a demarcation line for the fog.  Depending on the weather conditions, there are days where a low, thick bank of fog rolls into the bay but below the top of the hills.  This makes it so that you can get a great vantage point, looking across the city and seeing where the fog is.  I was in the hills on one such day, guessing the weather conditions would be correct, but I arrived before sunset and before I could see for sure what the fog was doing.  As the sun started to set, the fog moved across the bay.  A long lens on a tripod (roughly 400mm) let me isolate the features that make the scene say “San Francisco,” that is the bay bridge, Sutro tower, and the downtown skyline.  Even though the fog covers most of them, you still have a sense of geography.  Waiting for the lights to come on also added a nice element to the shot, a bit of warmth and brightness contrasting with the fog. Canon EOS 1Ds with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS on a tripod at 400mm.  f/16, 1.6 sec, ISO 100, -2/3 stops in evaluative metering.  

Motorcycles Street Scene

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit I often carry a Sony RX1 with me, as it’s got great image quality in a very compact form factor.  I don’t always want to carry a big DSLR.  Especially on photo trips, when I’m in a different environment, even when I’m not shooting my main subjects, I often see opportunities for interesting photos that make me want a camera.  This street scene is one such example, as I saw it while leaving dinner in China, near Mongolia one evening.  I liked the row of bikes and the people walking, as it captured how the town felt.  The converging lines into the distance added depth and visual intensity, and the warm colors on the signs provided a nice balance to the cool shadows.  And as I framed up a shot, I saw a car starting to drive down the street.  I quickly focused and shot a burst, getting the car in different positions.  It was sheer luck that this one guy looked back at me (it’s possible I swore when I saw the car and rushed to get the shot setup), creating a nice connection between the photo and the viewer. Sony RX1 at 35mm, f/2, 1/80 sec, ISO 6400  

Which Gear is Right for You?

DONALD PETERS PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR TIPS I look at “Gear” in terms of a) how important is to achieving the quality of images I want, b) how much will I really use it, c) will it be difficult to carry around and d) what does it cost? Here are some things that I’ve found helpful over the years: 1. ESSENTIALS TO BRING ON MOST EVERY SHOOT       a. An extra, charged battery – especially in the cold, when batteries discharge quickly       b. An extra, formatted camera memory card – like hard drives, they “die” unexpectedly       c. Small, micro fiber cloth for cleaning camera glass and couple of foil packets of             eyeglass wet wipes       d. “UV” lens filter.  Does nothing for images, but protects lens from scratches, etc. ($15)       e. Circular, polarizing filter.  Makes side lit, blue skies and outdoor colors “pop” ($35)       f.  Lens hood (usually comes with the lens).  Protects lens from damage if your camera             contacts a doorway, etc. as you’re moving about.   ($20)       g. “Hoodman” a loupe (about the size of a salt shaker) on a cord that you can wear             around your neck or put in your pocket.  You hold it up to your LCD screen             when reviewing a shot you’ve just taken.  The Hoodman blocks out all glare             (essential on a sunny day) and give you a magnified view of your image             (adjustable to your eyesight).  Use to insure that the shot(s) you’ve just taken             is in focus and otherwise the quality you’re seeking. Very, very useful. Its my “best friend” in my bag. ($70) 2. HELPFUL EXTRAS       a. A one gallon “baggie” to protect the camera in the rain.  Op Tec USA makes             specialized version (2 for $6) b. “Gorillapod” (, an “emergency” tripod with flexible legs that can wrap             a railing, pole, car door frame etc.      ($15 for version for pocket cameras; $40 version for DLSR’s)       c. A decent pocket camera.  Especially when going to some location or event that you’ll             never see again, it’s insurance that if your “main camera” fails, you won’t be left             empty handed. (over) (Continued from Other Side) 3. SPECIALTY GEAR TO CONSIDER BRINGING ALONG       a. For LANDSCAPE shooting             (1) A sturdy tripod and head  ($175-$400+)             (2) A “split density” filter for darkening an overly bright sky while properly                   exposing the landscape ($30)             (3) Neutral density filter(s) for shots of blurred moving water ($30)             (4) Magenta filter for shots of sunrises and sunsets ($30)       b. For STREET shooting or HIKING             A replacement camera shoulder strap, for walking/hiking, designed                   to hang on a sling by your hip, with the camera attached to a “slider” that allows you to instantly snatch the camera up to your eye for a shot, and then return the camera to your hip after the shot(s).  “Black Rapid” and “Joby” have these for $35-$65.   Some have a concealed steel mesh in the strap to foil bad guys who might try to use a razor-knife in a crowd to slash your camera strap and run off with your camera.   This really does happen!       b. For NIGHT shooting              A cable release, for ease in tripping the shutter and reducing camera shake in long exposures ($25)       c. For CLOSE UP (“macro”) shots             (1) Do NOT consider a cheap, screw in close up filter             (2) Canon makes a high quality close up lens (known as the “500D”) that simply screws to the filter threads of any brand lens.  An excellent alternative than to carrying an expensive and bulky macro lens.  ($90-$155, depending upon the diameter of the filter holder on the lens you’ll be using it with).   4. BEYOND!       a. Love landscapes???--consider adding a wide angle lens (e.g. 11-16mm or 12-24 mm.)       b. Love extremely close, “macro” photography? (1) consider a (“1 to 1”) ratio macro lens (several hundred $) (2) or extension tubes with your current lens (3, of varying sizes, for about $90) (3) A Canon 500D screw in close up lens c. Love dreamy, funky shots of flowers, or whatever, where one part of the shot is in             focus and other parts not?  Consider a “Lensbaby” (several models) ($150-$350) d. Love to save money? ---consider another hobby Great Sources to Get Gear:;;  B&

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