I'll be posting some random thoughts here about my photography: my travel plans, technical information behind some images, stories about how certain pictures were captured, etc. The timing of the postings will also be random as my priority is capturing new images rather than writing about existing ones. I hope you will feel free to comment on any of my postings and I appreciate you taking time to read my entries.
My monthly microstock earnings fell just short of $1,000 during January. Monthly revenues were down just $15 from last month, but fell $200 from January of last year.
Fotolia set monthly records in consecutive months. Shutterstock reported its highest monthly earnings since May.
I continued adding images to my Alamy portfolio, but haven't had an image sell for the last seven weeks.
Following is a summary of my monthly earnings:
I recently attended my cousin's fifth grade band/orchestra concert. The students have only been playing for a month or so--and they sounded quite good considering their inexperience. I hoped to capture some photographs of the event, but found the conditions to be very challenging for photography.
First, there were a lot more people at the concert than I expected:
I decided to position myself on the stage at the back of the gym so that I could shoot from a higher perspective.
The next challenge was the positioning of the musicians. The band and orchestra are facing each other on the gym floor and the two don't play at the same time. So, when I'm photographing the band director (who is facing me), the musicians in the background are just sitting there--and it looks very unnatural. I had to watch the background closely and activate the shutter at the most appropriate times.
The biggest challenge was the busy backgrounds. When shooting with a middle aperture, there's so much going on in the frame that it's difficult to tell what the subject is. So, I used my Nikon 300 2.8 and set the aperture wide open. At f/2.8, the depth of field of acceptable focus is very narrow--which helps to isolate the subject. I sometimes call the 300 2.8 lens my "background eraser." Here are some images from the concert:
This morning, my "Milwaukee Art Museum" picture won Imaging Resource's "Photo of the Day". CLICK HERE to view Imaging Resource's Photo of the Day page.
This marks the 48th time that one of my photographs was recognized by Imaging Resource as its "Photo of the Day". Click here to view all of the winning entries over the past few years.
During my visit to the Brookfield Zoo last week, I captured this photograph of a Mexican Gray Wolf:
Unfortunately there are now less than 400 of these wolves in the world--and less than 150 living in the wild. The Brookfield Zoo has some (I'm guessing 8 or 9) of the 240 Mexican gray wolves living in captivity. Fortunately, the zoo is participating in a breeding program to try to save these wolves...and recently introduced a couple of the wolves back into the wild in New Mexico. The fact that the Brookfield Zoo is undertaking such an initiative make me feel better about capturing photographs of captive animals.
I really wanted to capture this image. I loved how the color of his eyes matched the color of the background. I liked how his fur was backlit and raised behind his body due to the strong wind. And, I liked how he was peeking over his tail. The problem is that he wouldn't look my way!
Fortunately, nobody was on hand to shoot the behind the scenes video. All I needed was for him to open his eyes and look at me. So, in addition to making all kinds of strange sounds (which weren't effective), I started dancing around--"Dances With Wolves"--and waving my arms (which was effective). So, he gave me a look...and I thanked him and moved on.
During my short trip to Milwaukee last month, I visited a number of architectural sites--including City Hall. Upon completion, Milwaukee City Hall was the tallest structure in the United States! Here's a picture of the exterior of the building from Wikipedia:
When I visited, construction was taking place around most of the building. That, along with the fact that it was raining at the time, made capturing decent photos of the outside of the building nearly impossible. Although, the rain later paid dividends in enabling me to get better images of the interior of this historic building.
So, I was walking by City Hall on my way to the Milwaukee Art Museum on a rainy, cold and windy afternoon. Given how narrow this building is, I wasn't sure that it would be worth exploring the interior. I wrongly assumed that there couldn't possibly be much in the way of open spaces inside such a narrow structure. I was wrong.
When I entered the building, I was very surprised to see an open area from the lobby floor to the ceiling. This open space was surrounded by wrought iron railings. It's an amazing interior.
My only remaining challenge was waiting for the scenes to clear of people. In that first image, people were leaning over the railing and gazing at me--probably because I was laying on the lobby floor taking pictures! I hoped that the novelty of this view would wear off quickly, but it took a good 15 minutes or so before they backed away from the railing.
For the second and third images, I had to wait for a woman to walk out of the frame. But, she kept circling the scene (mounting steps on her Fitbit tracker)--so I had to time the shots when she circled behind me. Since these pictures are a blend of bracketed exposures, waiting for her to move behind me for each picture in the sequence tested my patience...especially because many of the times when she was finally behind me someone else would enter the scene!
While walking the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I entered the Grainger Engineering Library to photograph the colorful staircase:
Security approached me as soon as I started to set up my shot. I was told that photography isn't allowed inside the library. I asked if it would be possible for me to capture a photograph of this staircase before packing up. I promised not to include any library patrons in the frame as that seemed to be the main concern. To my surprise, permission was granted for me to take a few minutes for this picture.
I found it challenging to align the camera for this picture. The tripod was positioned on the stairs with the camera just a foot or so off one of the steps. After trying unsuccessfully to get my body positioned under the viewfinder (like a gymnast), it dawned on me that the Nikon D850 features a tilt LCD screen on the back of the camera! So, I sat comfortably upright while focusing the lens and composing the photograph.
The D850 also offers a feature called "focus peaking". While focusing the lens, the area that is in focus turns red--so you know that you've nailed the focus precisely. You can also change the color of the focus peaking (for example, when you happen to be shooting a red subject). Once the appropriate railings turned red, I activated the shutter and captured my image.
My monthly microstock earnings finished strong in 2017. Earnings for the month of December exceeded $1,000 and the annual earnings reached $11,400. Monthly revenues were up about $175 from last month and are about $270 more than December of last year.
Fotolia set a record for monthly earnings at $127. Shutterstock reported its highest monthly earnings since May.
I continued adding images to my Alamy portfolio, but had just one image sell through that agency in December.
Following is a summary of my monthly earnings:
For the vast majority of my photography, a tripod is an essential piece of gear. I was alarmed when I read about the tripod ban in Zion National Park, but since it only applies to workshop participants it won't directly impact me.
Earlier this month, I was disappointed to learn that tripods are completely banned in Lower Antelope Canyon now. When I visited Lower Antelope Canyon, I participated in the Photography Tour--which permitted tripods. Given the relatively low light in the slot canyon and the fact that I did a lot of exposure bracketing...the tripod was essential. Now, all Photography Tours have been cancelled--even during the "off season".
What's next? A ban on tripods throughout the country?
Note that Lower Antelope Canyon "has become too popular...to accommodate" the Photo Tours (tripods). Apparently, the same is true of a remote ice cave in Iceland that I'll soon be visiting. I recently received an email from our photography guide explaining that the ice caves have become so popular now that we need to hike there before sunrise in the dark and pay a premium to secure the space. Otherwise, he said that the place is so crowded that we won't be able to compose any photographs. The initial charge was $200 per person for the ice caves--and he requested an additional $75 for this private showing of the ice caves. Keep in mind that these caves are nearly 300 miles from Reykjavik and we'll be visiting in the middle of the winter! But, at least I can use my tripod!
Last Sunday, I photographed figure skating for the first time. Actually, it was the first time that I ever attended a figure skating event. The event was the Winter Blizzard Figure Skating Competition in Skokie, Illinois.
I enjoyed the experience. Figure skating is an ideal sport for photography. The costumes (dresses) are colorful. The young skaters are photogenic. And, there's action!
Figure skating can be a challenging subject to photograph. It's an indoor sport--which usually means dim lighting. Low light and fast action is a difficult combination.
I didn't want to deal with the meter potentially altering exposures as I moved the camera. So, I set the exposure manually. I went with a shutter speed of 1/800th, an aperture of f/2.0 and and ISO setting of 2,500. That exposure combination gave me a fast enough shutter speed to stop most of the movement, a shallow aperture to blur the backgrounds and a low enough ISO setting to minimize noise. Fortunately, I own the Nikon 200 f/2 lens as it's ideal for indoor sports. The f/2 aperture of this lens gathers twice as much light as a f/2.8 lens! In other words, had I selected a 2.8 lens, I would have had to boost my ISO to 5,000 to keep my shutter speed (1/800th) the same.
Here are a few images from the event:
I enjoyed the experience so much that I plan to shoot another figure skating competition in May.
Yesterday, I captured a few photos of the McCord House. This building is located just a few minutes from my home in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. I believe this is the oldest building in the area. It was built in 1834...which is very old for these parts! That's 37 years before the Great Chicago Fire.
All three photos were captured with the Nikon D850 and Nikon 14-24 2.8.
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