Photography Filters, and what you need to know.

April 15, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

This weeks’ video was another trip into my camera bag to show the photography filters I use to help me create my landscape photos. Enhancing your landscape photography is easy when you learn to use the tools like filters to help you create the vision you want with your photography. Maybe I am a bit weird about it, but I like to attempt to capture my scenes in camera so the post processing is a little easier, or at least less cumbersome.

The interesting thing about filters is that like all accessories in photography there are going to be HUNDREDS if not thousands of filters, mounts and options that is absolutely overwhelming to comprehend. Luckily through this week’s video and maybe through this blog I can help you narrow down what you legitimately want or need to accomplish your goal. So before you go running to the Internet or your local camera shoppe to unload your wallet let's go into some further detail on what filters you will need to help enhance your photography.

The two types of filter mounts I had covered come down to one particular feature. They screw onto the front of the lens. It is the most universal way to attach accessories to your camera right behind the hotshoe on your camera. So the attachment method is really going to be similar between platforms, the difference is going to be obviously the ring sizes of the filter or adapter ring screwing onto your lens. So the screw on filter will give you the advantage of being able to pop a filter on quickly and easily, but then the filter holder will give you the opportunity to stack filters. Most filter holders will give you 2 to 3 slots to slide a filter into it.

So the first of the two types of filters that I use are the Neutral Density filter. Think of it like a tinted window for your camera. Since it reduces the light entering your lens and camera it gives you the chance to gain more control of how you make your image. By adding a Neutral Density filter you can use a longer shutter and allow it to see the scene for longer. Being able to leave the shutter open longer you can show motion in your scene, or use a wider aperture to create a shallower depth of field to blur your background more. That blurrier background can help add depth and even some emotion to your image depending on how you utilize it.

Following up with the second filter type that I use is the polarizing filter. The advantage of using polarizers gives you the chance to help reduce your reflections, but also increase your color saturation. This works by changing how the the light waves travel through your lens into the camera. Wait… what?! Changing light waves? Yes, changing light waves. Think of light waves traveling through space, you’ll have peaks and valleys in a North/South orientation, and then other peaks and valleys in an East/West orientation. Those light waves can be allowed or blocked by the polarizer by changing which orientation of light waves are allowed to reach your sensor. That is how the reflections are enhanced, or reduced in your image with the polarizer. Sorry for the geeky science bit… but hopefully it helps understand how and why they work to help you create your images.

I hope that helps you on making decisions on which filters you want to try out and experiment with. Be sure to check out the video that accompanies this post on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/@jamesvooghtphotography and make sure to get out and capture some great photos!

Be sure to "Like" and "Follow" on Social Media!

Follow me on Instagram!

Subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

Like me on Facebook!


Capturing Spring Waterfalls

April 07, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Spring has sprung and the winter snow melt is underway. With the melting snow, and a little bit of Spring rains the streams and waterfalls are going to have some great flow. Even the weather may not be prime for outdoor activities, you can visit some of the most beautiful and popular places without having to worry about crowding and people getting into your compositions. So what better time to get out and work on capturing some epic waterfalls, right?

 

So the first thing to know about waterfall photography is going to be what you're going to bring with you. Even with some hiking involved in some of these adventures, right now I'm going to just cover some of the camera equipment for you because this is what you're going out for. The camera equipment is going to be of utmost importance, without making sure you are fully prepared with the right gear your waterfall photography will not be at its best. First things first; make sure you have your camera with you with at least your standard zoom lens. For these types of adventures I will usually bring my Canon 24-70mm lens, and a wide angle prime to ensure that I can capture the compositions that I would want. The next priority is to make sure you have a good sturdy tripod. A good tripod is definitely necessary when taking waterfall photography because if you want to take a long exposure of your waterfall; having the ability to be stable on a tripod is going to be crucial to getting a good clean photo. A quick tip with your tripod, be mindful of where you set it up. If you are setting up your tripod in the water, be careful to make sure that it is stable so your camera doesn’t fall into the water. But also make sure to take a few test photos to make sure that the rushing water is not introducing some shake into the camera setup. That could make your perfect composition unusable if you find out later on that the images you took are all blurry because of it.

 

Beyond the two priorities that I just listed there are other items you should have with you as well. While these pieces of gear are really important to capturing a waterfall, if you don’t have any of these items you can adapt as you go, and maybe even get creative with how you might make some great photos of the waterfall and streams you are visiting. So, one of big things I carry with me for something like this is my filter set. In my filter set I carry the Blue Frog Filter holder with a 3 stop and a 10 stop Neutral Density filter, or ND Filter. In that kit is also a screw in circular polarizer that works with the filter holder, which is extremely convenient. I will also carry a set of gradient ND filters so that way I can reduce the amount of light getting through to my camera sensor in a portion of the image, instead of the whole image.

 

Having the ND filters are really nice to have because you can use it to reduce highlights in all or a portion of the scene in front of it. But also, having a polarizer filter can help you with some reflections with the water to get detail in the waterfall pools or portions of the stream. I generally carry two polarizing filters, one for the Blue Frog set, and a second screw on filter if I am not using the filter holder. Removing the reflections is a nice feature to have because you can sometimes bring out colors in the waterfall and stream bed that you would not normally see because of the reflection of the sky or the rest of the scene on the water itself.

 

The last item that I like to have with me is a remote trigger, or a remote app on my phone in order to help control the camera to take the timed photos without introducing any camera shake. It also allows me to to not have to sit right with the camera the whole time, which will prevent inadvertent bumps or knocks to create a blurry image, or shift your composition.

 

Once at the waterfall, you should follow some of these tips in order to ensure you are giving yourself the best opportunity to capture the best images you can. The first part is to look for interesting compositions in your scene and around the area. Don’t be afraid to chase the light, and chase an interesting composition if it stands out to you. Capturing the whole waterfall itself may not be the most interesting composition or image that you could get. Zooming in, or changing positions and angles can help you find more interesting compositions. You want to compose your image utilizing the Rule of Thirds or any other compositional techniques. Another thing to consider are the lines that are created with the flowing water and a timed photograph. The flowing water can introduce a leading line for you that you may not see in the moment. By all means, try and experiment with your shutter speed to try and bring out those lines. Also look for shapes in the scene that can be used to help build your composition as well.

 

The last tip I will give you is to have fun. I say it all the time. Photography is a really fun and enriching activity that can help you express yourself creatively. So, enjoy the process and take your time.

 

Be sure to check out the video that accompanies this post on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/@jamesvooghtphotography and make sure to get out and capture some great photos!

 


What's in the Bag? Part 2

September 17, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Last time I took you on a somewhat vague trip through some camera equipment in my bag of tricks. The reason I was vague is because I don't want to lead you down a path that you would have a hard time coming back from. I may love my 15mm Irix lens, but when you pick it up and try it your results or satisfaction might not be on the same level. And if you end up having to ditch it, that is $650 down the tubes. This is not a lot when it comes to lenses, but if your budget is limited you need to make that budget stretch as far as you can.

So what else is in there? Stuff..

And the kind of stuff that can help you make a photo of the highest quality without having to do too much "in post". So having some filters of varying types will help you accomplish that. I mentioned it last time, but fairly near to the top of the list is a polarizer. Why? A polarizer will help you darken the blues in your skies, remove (or enhance) the reflections on water. You want a nice smooth shot of a crystal clear mountain lake with the mountains in the background, a polarizer will help you elevate that photo.

The next type of filter that I carry is a neutral density filter, or ND filter. I carry several kinds of them in my kit that give me flexibility when setting up my shots. I have a variable ND filter so I can keep things light when going on a hike, the downside of that is the fact that with a variable ND you basically have two polarizers working together to block and reduce light entering your lens. That means when you are at the extremes of this filter you may not get an even filtering of light. The other types of ND filters that I have are with the Lee Filter system and their square filters. This will include several levels of ND, but also several levels of graduated ND Filter. This allows to not only darken the whole frame, but darken a portion of the frame. This allows you to capture the light levels you want in the frame in one shot rather than multiple shots to layer in post.

An important part of my kit is of course a tripod. Since you can't handhold all the time, especially for timed exposures. So having some options for a tripod, or monopod, should be available. I own two tripods, first is a lightweight option from 3 Legged Thing that I love, and the second is a Promaster carbon fiber that is smaller which makes it easier to pack for trips. The 3 Legged Thing tripod is by far my daily driver, because it is lightweight, but very sturdy regardless of what I throw on top of it. Beyond that I have a Promaster aluminum monopod that I will bring with me for sports and other action photography where having a smaller footprint is necessary.

The rest of the kit is usually made up of some cleaning accessories, covers, remote triggers, extra batteries, and occasionally a hotshoe flash. Cleaning supplies are pretty atraight forward; microfiber cloth, a cleaner, and a brush or bulb syringe for incidental dust or clumsy fingerprints. Covers are important to help protect your eauipment from the elements, so having an adjustable or disposable camera cover to protect it. Take care, and Happy Shooting!

The remote triggers are an important accessory in the kit. But wait, triggers? As in more than one? Yes. One is an actual remote that will open the shutter with a button click, or keep it open for a pre-set time in Bulb mode. This is handy for timed shots when on a tripod because you want to be able to activate the shutter without touching the camera, introducing some shake. The second trigger I carry is an app connected trigger called the Pluto Trigger (insert link here) for capturing on programs through the app, or setting up a laser tripwire (think animals crossing a path) or taking a photo based on sound, and my favorite.. lightning detection.

So that about wraps it up for part two. Luckily for you.. there is not a part three. Thank you for sticking with me on this, and thank you for reading and following my work. Check back again for more blogs, and look out for new photos on here or social media.


What's in the Bag? Part 1 of... who knows.

August 14, 2021  •  Leave a Comment
I see the posts on various sites and social media and have scoffed at it for quite a while. A lot of people want to know what a photographer carries in their kit. It is a legitimate curiosity and especially for beginner photographers it can provide a little guidance to capturing moments with the high quality. I’ll dive into my bag and give some opinions of various equipment choices, and perhaps some comparisons and examples. As with anything in art, mileage may vary but this is my perspective on things.
 
There is a saying out there that I see once in a while that is attributed to Chase Jarvis that I absolutely love and believe in. “The best camera is the one with you.” He wrote a whole book about it around iPhone photography. It is true if you have a $50,000 kit, but leave it home all the time it is not your best camera if all your shots then come from your phone. The moral of that tidbit is not “carry 50 pounds of camera equipment all the time” but quite the opposite. Take what you need with you. But more on that later.
 
The first item I would like to address in the bag. I know what you are saying, “But wait, I thought we were talking about photography equipment?” Yes, as a matter of fact I am. Think about it. If you invite your future in laws over for dinner, you aren’t going to make them a gourmet meal and then serve it on a paper plate, right? Your photography bag or box is one of the most important piece of your kit. For years I used a hard case with wheels on it and partitions and padding on the inside. Was perfect for protecting my equipment while it would be in the back seat of my car, or if I was traveling with it on another form of transportation. Most recently, I moved to a softer backpack with more partitions and pockets than I know what to do with. When you are starting out, or even just expanding what you have available to, just consider your carrying options. Are you packing to hike the Appalachian Trail? Or are you taking a quick jaunt into town to do a photo walk? My current pack is a Mindshift Backlight 26L. This pack holds most of my day to day kit, and has plenty of pockets and a waist belt to do some light to moderate hiking with the camera gear and what you need for that hike. The 26L is a fairly large pack, so consider what it is that you would most likely have with you and determine the size from there. I also use a regular Camelback backpack to strap a tripod to and throw a filter kit in and clip my camera onto one of the straps for easy access.
 
Now, the camera kit itself. I have kept to a general configuration throughout my life in photography that is fairly simple. Beyond the camera body, I try to keep a wide angle zoom, and a tele zoom at minimum. If weight and space are not a concern I’ll throw a wide angle prime and a macro prime for good measure. This blog is not going to be about “you need to buy this” but more of maybe a little guidance.
 
For years I used a Tamron 18-200 on a crop sensor body and had obtained a plethora of fantastic images. From there I started upgrading to better quality glass for better quality in my images. From that Tamron I graduated to a Canon L series 24-105 f4 that I still have and use today. In the last year I began the transition to mirrorless and picked up the Canon 24-70 f2.8 matched with the R series body. I have used these lenses for a majority of my landscape and portraits. 
 
For a longer tele zoom my most recent lens is a Canon 100-400. This lens is fantastic and gets the most use when I am shooting wildlife and birds. 90% of the images of birds and wildlife you see on my site and social media are from that lens. Reason for using this lens for wildlife and birds is that you don’t want to disturb the wildlife and their environment. It is always best to let wildlife remain wild. Plus, if you want shots of animals like bear, moose, and raptors keeping your distance is not just for them, but your safety as well. 
 
When choosing your lenses make sure that you get the best quality glass that you can afford. I have spent years saving for and collecting equipment. You can do the same, and don’t look down on what you have either. If you take care of your equipment and practice the fundamentals with what you have, you will come away with images that will evoke the emotions and responses that you hope for. The rest of the kit is just filters. Having a polarizer is probably one of the more important filters to have to darken your skies and manage glare and reflections. After that I have an assortment of neutral density filters. Those filters will help you with longer shutter speeds, especially during the day, when wanting to obtain images with motion in them. Think of the silky smooth waterfalls, neutral density will help you accomplish that.
 
I hope this was helpful, please make sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook. And also check out the rest of my website and my ViewBug page. Check in next time for more of what is in the bag. I’ll go over accessories and other tools that I use. And as always, happy shooting!

First Blog Post!

August 02, 2021  •  Leave a Comment
Good morning (day/evening/night) everyone. This blog has been here, and empty since day one and quite frankly, forgotten about. Let's do something about this shall we? Yes, lets.
What is going to be the goal of the blog? Sharing. It may be some random idea or experiment that gets shared here, news and info when I see it (and my thoughts), tutorials (more on that in a bit), and sometimes announcements of specials or features.
First thing I want to bring up is tutorials. The world is FULL of them. Problem is a lot of photographers charge for classes on how to do things or little tricks and tips in Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom or post-processing in general. We all get better the more we share, so I am going to try to start putting together some little tutorials to share with everyone for free. We can also discuss them and make them better. Collaboration is the key to a great community, right? Right.
So, with that out of the way... something to share. I have been thinking about this blog thing for a while and have wrestled through what to share, when to share it, etc. First thing to share is an article that I saw on "Hackaday" and it has to do with the little orange dates on our old school photos in the late 80's and 90's. How did they do that? Well, on Hackaday they published an article with a video that explains it. You can see that article here -> https://hackaday.com/2019/10/15/ben-krasnow-looks-inside-film-camera-date-stamping/ It really is a bit of genius that makes it happen, and is truly one of those little things that I love.
That is it for now. Going to try and make this a habit, so check back. Remember there will be announcements and specials here once in a while too.
Have a great day!
Archive
January February March April May June July August (2) September (1) October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April (3) May (2) June (2) July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December