Tag Archives: iphone 4

My Nature Photography Day Shoot

To celebrate Nature Photography Day, I initially was going to Colditz Cove on the Cumberland Plateau. Then I realized that I had plenty of subjects in my own front yard in our wildflower garden. So, about 630am, I proceeded down the steps with a 200 Micro lens, Nikon D4 and my tripod.

At first, I was scouting and taking some rather standard flower shots.

Then I started framing different color flowers in the background for some contrast interest (I also shot some verticals after I shot the horizontals).


Then I played with Focus stacking.. I really liked the bud in front of the bloom.


After an aborted attempt to get a bumblebee in focus in flight ( I didn’t have my flash with me when he flew by), I was about to call it quits. I wasn’t satisfied with what I had shot so far. Just ho hum. Then I stood there looking at the flowers and wondered about using my multiple exposure techniques.

I decided to using the Multiple Exposure Monet technique because the flowers and the garden seemed to be calling out for that type of expression.


I also played with broader strokes of my Monet brush while making the image.

I had a great time and while I was downloading the images from my Nikon D4, I picked up my iPhone and went back out.

First I shot this image.

Then I opened it in ProHDR app on the iPhone and converted it to a sketch>

Then I Imported both to Lightroom and opened them up in Photoshop CS6 as Layers then used a Layer Mask and Opacity to paint in the color of the flower on the sketch. I think it’s cool that you can even see the little ant with the iPhone image.

I hope each one of you enjoyed your shooting during Nature Photography Day. If you haven’t, there is still time. June 15 doesn’t end until midnight!


How to Paint with Light

Photography derives its name from the “painting with light”. But the term light painting has come to mean using external sources of light (flashlight, candle, etc) to paint in light on a subject at night. The method I use in Light Painting requires a flashlight and some way to color the light.

First, choose a flashlight. I use everything from a 2 million-candle power spotlight (with color gels) to a small AA flashlight. I even have some even smaller flashlights that use really small batteries, but that is for a follow-up blog. For my AA flashlights, I color the light with pieces of plastic that I get from Staples. Just go look in the notebook section and look for plastic colored dividers. You can even get Rosco gels to put over the light source. The flashlight should have a way to turn on and leave on without having to hold a button, but a button is really nice for starting and stopping your sweeps of light.

Second, choose a subject in very dark light. Because you are going to leave the shutter open for several minutes, you may not want the surrounding area to pick up ambient light and make night into day. Even in the wilderness, we have light from the moon. This takes planning so use something like the Moon Seeker app for iPhone which shows the phase of the moon, the moon rise and moon set times and even the arc, so you can plan to have the moon behind a big obstruction when painting.

Third, set your exposure. I start out at 1 minute and go up to 5 minutes exposure (tip: you need a way to set a long exposure, with Nikon this is the MC-36 controller. Most digital cameras only go to 30 seconds for the longest exposure). Keep increasing the exposure until you start to see a little definition in the image. This will give you plenty of time to paint light into your subject. Now on to painting.

Fourth, paint with light. Pressing the button down on your flashlight, sweep the light to follow the contours of your subject. Don’t ever stop the light in one spot. Time the length of your total flashlight exposure (I use 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi to count it out). Review your image. If the painting is too bright, only paint for half the time. If the painting is too dark, paint for twice the time (see, we are using photographic stops of light). Look at how smooth your painting is. It takes some practice because you will be painting over and over areas to build up the light in the image.

Voila’. You have a light painting. Now doesn’t that make you feel more like an artist with a paintbrush?

Try this with a double exposure. Find a subject that silhouettes against sunset. Expose for the sunset, wait about 45 minutes, then light paint your subject. If this is a true double exposure, you get only one crack at it.. But here’s a tip, photograph the silhouette several times before the double exposure, exposing for the sunset colors. Then do your double exposure. Then do several regular light paintings. You will need to combine these images in Photoshop (the first sunset images with the light painting) and play with them, but it beats just getting one shot at it..

In camera double exposure!

Multiple images and light painting produced in Photoshop.

Weather and Lightning Safety Outdoors (Hoping for a safe Friday the 13th for everyone!)

I’m writing this for all those outdoor photographers out there who want more information about weather and safety while we are out shooting. But much of this applies to anyone who ventures outside during possible inclement weather. As outdoor photographers (this might even include portrait or wedding or commercial photographers when they are outside), we always want to know what to expect. In my previous blog I talked about iPhone apps, which give us Sun position, moon position, tide charts and more. These are important, but what’s the weather going to be?

Before smart phones, we were usually glued to the Weather Channel on TV, then the Weather Channel on the Internet. Now with smart phone apps, we can carry all that information with us on our phone. I really would like to have the radar built into my GPS screen on my Toyota 4Runner, but maybe the next one I buy.

So, to get the most up to date information, where do you go? The Weather Channel has an App for the iPhone that comes loaded on the iPhone in conjunction with Yahoo!. It’s ok, for a start, but there are better apps out there. My favorite is My-Cast by Garmin. It gives great choices for maps, including Radar that is not static and updates every 15 minutes. It gives up weather alerts as soon as they come from the NWS. AND, most importantly for safety, it has lightning strikes update every minute.

So, with My-Cast you can look at the forecast, see the radar for approaching rain or other events, look at current conditions including temperature, wind speed, humidity, dewpoint and barometric pressure. How does dewpoint help? Well, if you’re looking for fog to shoot, this can give you some indication whether or not fog will be present. How? Fog happens when the air temperature falls to or below the Dewpoint. This morning I went down to the lake knowing that fog would be over the lake as the Dewpoint was 39° and the temperature was 38°. Sure enough, fog over the lake.

As far as safety, the Lightning Strike indicator can be life saving. Have you ever heard the saying “a bolt out of the blue”? Well, that came from lightning striking even when there is blue sky. Jerry Monkman told me about a surfer on the coast of NH (first, until I knew Jerry, I didn’t know that NH had a coast and, second, aren’t most surfers, like, in California or Hawaii?) was struck by lightning while surfing with blue sky overhead, but a storm further inland. Lightning can strike up 10 miles or more away from the storm that generates it. Thunder, on the other hand, can usually only be heard 6-8 miles away. So if you hear thunder, you definitely should take cover.

So, safety tip of the day for all you outdoors enthusiasts, “If you see it, flee it (Lightning) and if you hear it, clear it (hearing thunder means get off the field or to safety.)

How do you keep safe if you can’t get away?

  1. Stay away from any bodies of water.
  2. NEVER stand under an isolated tree.
  3. Stay away from tall trees – keep twice as far from the tall tree as it is tall.
  4. Avoid being the tallest object around – but don’t lie down on the ground, squat. If you can put an insulating pad under you to stand on, it might help.
  5. Stay away from natural lightning rods—Towers, tall trees, telephone poles, metal objects.
  6. If you are in a group, spread out with 50 feet in between each person. This possibly prevents multiple people in a group being affect by a single strike.

What do you do if someone in your group is struck by lightning?

  1. It is ok to touch them; they don’t carry any residual electric charge.
  2. Check to see if they are breathing and their heart is beating.
  3. Start CPR if needed. Sometimes the heart will start back to beating on its own before the person starts breathing on their own.
  4. If a person is talking, moving, etc, they probably will be ok, move on to the person who is not breathing and heart is not beating. We call this Reverse Triage in wilderness medicine. Usually in multiple casualties, you attend to those who DON’T appear dead.
  5. Get help, call 911 if possible. Anyone struck by lightning, even if they are walking and talking, needs to go to the ER to be checked out.

For more information on lightning safety for the outdoors, go to the NOLS site.

Bill teaches Wilderness First Aid for Photographers as part of his experience as an ER doctor for 20 years and his activities in the wilderness spanning 35 years.

iPhone for Scouting

iPhone for scouting

I have always carried my phone with me when shooting, Especially when hiking. I really don’t want to be one of those people who call 911 when I run out of water or get lost, but if something bad happens when I am alone, I will use it to facilitate a rescue. I have been looking at the PLB (Personal Locator Beacons) and the Satellite Messengers (SPOT is one but I am holding out for the InReach by Delorme, which is currently only for Android phones.. Really? With all the iPhones out there?).

So what else do I carry my phone for? Well, my iPhone4 has a built in camera and also built in video. So this has become one of my scouting tools. Instead of carrying a larger compact camera, this camera has multiple functions, including the one my wife thinks that all phones should do only, and that is make and receive phone calls. Now, with my iPhone, I can take reference images and video. Take images and then share directly to Facebook. Take images and use Snapseed by NIK and play with them before sharing (Hey, it’s not Photoshop, but boy did they pack a lot of stuff in a program that fits on your phone).  Use reference apps for wildflowers, butterflies, birds, etc.

So for photo shooting and image enhancement, these are my top Apps:

  1. Pro HDR – 2 shot HDR method
  2. AutoStitch Panorama – Creates panoramic images
  3. Snapseed – creative enhancement to images and great sharing
  4. Pano  – Creates panoramic images
  5. Photoshop Express (PS Express)– still not regular PS, but fun to use.

For location and scouting, these are my tops Apps:

  1. Sun Seeker – great sunrise sunset position that even has a live image overlay mode.
  2. TPE (The Photographer’s Ephemeris) – great for sun and moon information including phase of moon. (for those of you, like me, didn’t know what ephemeris means- “a table listing the future positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets over a given period of time”. So now you know.)
  3. Hi Tide – gives high and low tides for your position. Great for beach photography and especially tidal pool photography.
  4. SkySafari 3 – I use this to determine moon position in sky and also constellation positions for time lapse of the night sky.
  5. Offline Topo Maps  – You can download the maps for the area you will be in and have them on your phone, even without a internet connection.. Works great.

For in phone reference, these are my top Apps:

  1. Audubon Guides– Butterflies– Great resource
  2. Audubon Guides – Wildflowers
  3. GSM Wildflowers Great Smoky Mountains wildflower guide that is partnered with DLIA ( Discover Life in America) which is in charge of the ATBI (All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory).
  4. iBird Explorer Pro Birds of North America. Includes drawings, photos, songs and more. They have a sell on the app right now (April 12, 2012) for half price. It was worth it at full price!
  5. The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America– for all of you who have used David Allen Sibley’s guide books for birds, this is great. Get the full version!

I will be posting a blog tomorrow about some weather apps as well as useful information about weather conditions and also how to survive a lightning storm!