Sunday, March 21, 2010

Photographing Spring

As the light begins to extend as we approach Spring Equinox (happy spring!), our bodies want to wake up earlier and stay up later, whether our schedules or minds want them to or not! I'll be the first one to admit that I'm not a morning person, but every photographer will attest that there's something magic about the "magic hours."

The "magic hours" are the times around sunrise and sunset where the light is simply magical. It catches the ridgelines and mountainsides turning them to rose, it glistens off water and reflects off the clouds, but while it's magical for some subjects, it's also not good for some.

For instance, faces become back-cast, shaded, glared, or blown out, but silhouettes are gorgeous during the magic hour. Action shots are blurred out of focus and again dark or blown out, but the animals are always out at the magic hour, especially in spring. And the spring season adds to the magic hour because the light is still softer due to the sun being still relatively low (depending on latitude).

Here are some tips for photographing spring in the magic hour:
Use a tripod if you have one
Set your ISO to 400 or 800
Set your white balance to cloudy to catch the full dimensions of the light
Set your F-Stop to the highest setting (24, 32...) so that the hole is very small and will get everything in focus. This will likely set your aperture to its lowest under these lower light conditions, so the tripod will come in handy. If you do not have a tripod, move both settings to the middle to catch as much light, dimension, and focus as you can.
Snap a few shots for practice, then begin to think about the composition of the image and play around with the light.
For silhouettes, move the body off center to focus on the background to get the light setting right, then move the camera back to center to shoot.
Test your panoramic settings.
Get up before dawn and watch the process, sunrise magic hour last about 2 hours, sunset magic hour is only about one hour.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Earth Hour Spreads Further in 2010

March 27, 8:30pm, Your Time

Coming up on March 27th is the 3th annual Earth Hour, when individuals, families, businesses, organizations, corporations and governments around the world will come together to make a bold statement about their concern for climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour.

Earth Hour began as an effort led by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to raise awareness about climate change and show leaders that we are looking for solutions. In 2007, 2.2 million people took part in the world's first Earth Hour in Sydney Australia. Just one year later, 50 million people in 370 cities and towns, in more than 35 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour. Earth Hour 2010 aims to reach more than one billion people in 1000 cities around the world, sending a clear message that we care about this issue and want to turn the lights out on dirty air, dangerous dependency on foreign oil and costly climate change impacts, and make the switch to cleaner air, a strong economic future and a more secure nation, no matter where we live.

"Since its inception three years ago, Earth Hour’s non-partisan approach has captured the world’s imagination and became a global phenomenon. Nearly one billion people turned out for Earth Hour 2009 – involving 4,100 cities in 87 countries on seven continents."

Participation is easy. By flipping off your lights on March 27th at 8:30 p.m. local time you will be making the switch to a cleaner, more secure nation and prosperous America. View the toolkits, to find out what else you can do to get involved including leading the Earth Hour movement in your community.

How can you make a difference? Join Earth Hour now! Encourage your city officials to use their ToolKit for Cities! And see my list below for some household ways to go green and save.

Household Helpers:
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones
  • Recycle as much as possible, stay current on your local center's addtions
  • Read news online, instead of buying paper copies
  • Grow vegetables during the summer and compost food waste
  • Bicycle, walk, take public transit, or carpool where possible
  • Take the bus or train when traveling long distances
  • Unplug appliances when they are not in use
  • Program the thermostat to cut back on heating during the winter
  • Update insulation, windows, blinds, and door molding
  • Plant a tree to help filter your air and to provide shade
  • Reduce the number of animal products you eat by half
  • Purchase products that use less packaging or are 100% recycled and recyclable
  • Explore alternative power solutions and additions
  • Buy only energy-rated appliances
  • Take a local holiday instead of taking a plane to get somewhere