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Mark Comon
An opportunity to do something important!

My wife and I just returned from an amazing four days in Hawaii.  It was an opportunity to record a historic moment.  One of nine surviving USS Arizona sailors was telling his story for the first time and returning to Pearl Harbor to honor his best friend and shipmates.  I was asked to photograph the event and help create a documentary film on the event.  It was physically and emotionally draining yet one of the greatest honors and one of the most important events I have ever covered with my camera.

The Second to the Last to Leave project will be a Ken Burns style documentary film highlighting the harrowing escape of Lauren Bruner and 5 shipmates from the USS Arizona on that fateful morning.  My task was to capture stills of the participants.  Technically it was easy… Nikon D800 with 24-70 and 70-200mm lenses.  Using the natural light, adding fill-flash, close-ups and environmental images all came into play, and was the easy part.  Being unobtrusive, sensitive, respectful and reverent while making the photos was difficult!

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Our cameras can be powerful instruments of creativity and good.  It is a privilege to be included in such a historic project.  What is your project?  How can you use your camera for good?

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Night photography Los Angeles
Freeway shot from the City Lights Bus Tour at Paul's Photo.

City Lights Shooting

Photographing around town after dark

“Street Walking” at night is lots of fun with a digital camera.  Photography after dark while on vacation, in the city, at your favorite theme park or by the coast can yield fantastic results.  Let the movement and the color be your subject.  Look for the brilliant neon, flashing and moving signs or swiftly moving traffic.  Techniques are simple… let’s learn to do it! Most beginning photographers worry about shooting at nigh... it’s just like daytime except dimmer!

Low light photography requires one of two techniques… hand-held photo or tripod shooting.  For hand held pictures choose a high ISO film setting (ISO 1600 or 3200 on your digital camera) and use your lens at the brightest lens opening (2.8, 4.0 or 5.6).  With a compact camera zoom to the widest position where the lens is the brightest, turn off the flash and shoot!  For better color, more creativity and all around better photos tripod shooting is best.  Use 100 or 200 ISO setting sturdy tripod and remote release.  You may find your camera making exposure from 1 second to 30 seconds on the average scene.  Choose aperture priority with F-stop 8 to have the majority of the scene in focus and shoot!  The longer shutter sped will creatively blur moving items and equalize the “twinkling” lights.

night photography los angeles
Photographers in action during our City Lights Bus Tour.

Check the light for color and effect.  Daylight, tungsten or fluorescent lights will affect the color of your end result.  Your camera is most likely set to AUTO white balance.  “White” light bulbs with film come out orange, to correct for this choose the “tungsten” white balance to make white lights white.  Play with Tungsten , Fluorescent and Sunlight white balance settings as well as Auto to achieve the color you desire.

To make your photos more “exciting” choose to add a star filter.  A Hoya Star-6 filter, Promaster Cross-Screen or Lee Multi-Star add the “extra spark” to your City Lights photos by turning every pin-point of light into a star!

Photographing at night is a great adventure.  On most of our photo outings we’ll do a night shoot or go out after dark… just for the fun of it.  Try these tips next time you have a chance and don’t forget to send me a copy…. Sharing photos is the most fun of all!

redondo beach pier
A shot from our Night Photography Fotowalk at Redondo Beach Pier.

Here’s a check list to make it simpler!

1-    Use a tripod and remote release.  Our exposures will be 1 to 60 seconds!  Make sure the tripod is level and steady

2-    Matrix light meter

3-    Program exposure mode for beginners or Aperture priority if you’re comfortable!  Remember, F8 and be there!

4-    ISO 200 film or setting on digital cameras

5-    Turn OFF the flash, use the ambient light only

6-    Turn OFF Stabilizer or shake reduction

7-    Test Auto and Tungsten white balance on digital cameras… see what looks best!

8-    Fill the frame with your subject.  Avoid lots of “dark areas” with no lights in the picture

9-    Take the picture and enjoy!

 

**Get some practice during one of our night photography excursions! Join us for our City Lights Bus Tour in downtown Los Angeles on August 15, or for our Star Trails photo shoot with Bristlecone pines in the White Mountains on August 2-4.

A few items in the store have been flying off the shelves lately -- some last minute Father's Day shopping, perhaps?

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The new Canon Rebel SL1 has claimed the title of the "world's smallest and lightest digital SLR camera." With 18.0 megapixels, a 12800 ISO range, 4.0 frames per second, and a 3.0 touch panel LCD, it might become your new favorite travel-friendly toy.

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Black Rapid sling straps: these straps boast that they are the "world's fastest camera straps." Slide your camera up the strap without missing a beat to capture that perfect shot. The under-arm safety tether helps to keep the strap in place.

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An essential tool for the "iPhoneographer": a tripod mount for the smartphone. This mount fits most smartphones and fits easily into a jacket pocket. This would be a great "throw-in" gift for dad -- it's only 20 bucks!