Keith W. Springer Blogs

Photographing The Gateway National Recreation Area

posted May 3, 2017, 11:43 PM by Keith W. Springer   [ updated May 3, 2017, 11:45 PM ]

The Gateway National Recreation Area in New York has proven to be a very attractive venue for many photographers all over the country. In the past, the Gateway has been described various times as a place with “multiple personalities,” making it a place that offers many photo options to take.

It features a sprawling 26,000 acres of land, which makes it a wide-open space for many subjects of interest as far as taking photographs is concerned. It actually accounts for the coastline of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey.

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This is made up of beaches that offer the most picturesque sunsets and sunrises which can serve as a backdrop for many images, or if the photographer fancies it, they can be central to picture composition too.

It attracts all sorts of birds that either live there in a habitat or are stopping over along a predictable migratory path. Often, birds like to frolic in the water or keep close to the estuaries and salt marshes that abound Gateway.

For those who would like to take candid photographs of people in action, the Gateway is also the home to New York City’s first municipal airport. Here is where a convergence of tourists and traders takes place.

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It isn’t a bad idea at all to walk around the national park without a specific plan, with one’s camera in hand. There’s a big chance you’ll be capturing something interesting on your way.

Hello! Keith W. Springer here. I am a photographer from the film era, now living in New York. I like to take photographs in national parks. Among my favorites are Gateway National Recreation Area and Hudson River Valley. For more on New York photography, read this blog.

Top 3: Best Cameras For Shooting Professional Videos

posted Apr 19, 2017, 1:45 AM by Keith W. Springer

In the last few years, the market has been saturated with DSLRs that it’s hard to choose the best equipment for your videography.  To help you out a bit, here are my favorite DSLRs for shooting professional videos. 

1. Nikon D3300 
One of the more common DSLRs out there. You’ll never go wrong with this one. The fact that it’s common means a lot of people trust this camera’s performance. It’s not too expensive and it is packed with features. The photos are 24.2 megapixels and the video is 1080p Full HD. 

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2. Canon EOS 6D 
The Canon EOS series is a good line of camera for filming. The 6D comes at a hefty price tag compared to other popular models, but the performance and the specifications are better than its rivals. You have 20.2 Megapixels, wide ISO range from 100 to 25600, and a higher image processer that’s very effective in low light adaptability. It also has a built-in WiFi.

 3. Sony A77 II 
This one is a contender.  Seeing this isn’t Canon or Nikon, Sony A77 II matches the performance of its rivals. It has 24.3 Megapixels, an APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor and 1080p or even 4K video quality options.  They have their own autofocus technology which they call “4D Focus.” If you’re a Sony fan and don’t want to have what everybody has, then go get this one. 

Hey there! I’m Keith W. Springer. I’m a professional photographer, I’m now retired but I spend my time doing park photography and writing out photography tips. Follow my page to learn more. 

Skilled To Shoot: Soft And Hard Skills For The Pro Photographer

posted Mar 23, 2017, 11:02 PM by Keith W. Springer   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 11:03 PM ]

Earning the name “photographer” means someone can take beautiful pictures. But other than having a keen eye for breathtaking shots, photographers need to have these soft and hard skills to be successful in the field.

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Hard Skills

Hard skills are easy to learn. A lot of professional photographers and hobbyists invest their time and money on workshops and classes that teach them the technical aspects of photography. They learn about aperture, exposure control, speed, directing and photo editing to bring the best out of their images. Photographers also need to learn the artistic side of the job. They must know about the hues that work together, themes that elicit feelings, proper lighting and focus, and so much more. A good photographer is a mix of a technical and an artistic talent.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are those that need to be done with the people around you. These are important and weighed more in the success of a photographer (or any professional). The ability to communicate effectively with staff members, clients, and guests, understanding the needs of the clients, and professionalism are part of soft skills.

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While it is important that photographers have the technical and artistic sense, their craft will reach new heights when they pair it with soft skills.

Hi I’m Keith W. Springer, a retired photographer from New York City. Visit this blog for more updates and photography tips.

Capturing movements: Perfecting long-exposure photography

posted Feb 10, 2017, 1:46 AM by Keith W. Springer   [ updated Feb 10, 2017, 1:47 AM ]

As more and more photographers – both professional and amateur – are setting their eyes on nature, landscape, or wildlife photography, learning how to apply long exposure is advantageous for shutterbugs.

Long-exposure images are able to present an element that most other photography techniques cannot: time. By prolonging the shutter speed, from a few seconds to minutes or hours, the motion of moving subjects are captured in an interesting manner. And when done correctly, stationary objects are displayed sharply or clearly and bright objects create stunning visible trails.

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Creating the perfect long-exposure shot, however, requires a whole lot of practice time and sufficient technical know-how.

One of the challenges of using long exposure is the need for stability as even a small movement of the camera can mess up the photo. Investing in a tripod, or even a hand-supported stabilizer, can help the camera be still. Some photographers also opt to use a remote trigger to ensure that the hand would not produce vibration while the shutter button is being pressed.

Another problem to consider in long-exposure photography is the possibility of overexposure caused by too much light. A way to master light is to make use of ND (neutral density) filters, which decreases the amount of light that enters the lens without leaving a color cast on the image.

Hey there, my name is Keith W. Springer, a retired event photographer from New York. For more tips and techniques on how to capture life through the lens, follow me on Twitter.

The Majestic Yosemite: The Nature Photographer's Playground

posted Dec 22, 2016, 10:35 PM by Keith W. Springer   [ updated Dec 22, 2016, 10:36 PM ]

Follow any American professional photographer on Instagram (as I'm now slowly learning to use the app) and the grandiose Yosemite National Park would appear every now and then on your feed. It's easy to understand why: this national treasure presents an otherworldly natural beauty that looks different in every season.

Yosemite has an area of more than 3,000 square kilometers, and it would definitely be difficult to know where to start. For first-timers, here are some of the popular spots for photographers to begin exploring.

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Vernal Falls. It is a busy trail to hike up to the falls, but that explains exactly what magnificence lies at the end. The powerful waterfall showers the surrounding area with mist thick enough to constantly form a rainbow. That's instantly an easy beautiful shot for any photographer!

El Capitan. There are many different spots to view this massive granite formation. At sunset or at nighttime for star trails, head to the Tunnel View; or if you want a mirror image of El Capitan as reflected on the still waters of the Merced River, then head to Cathedral Beach.

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Glacier Point. For a commanding view of Yosemite, you would need to drive 30 miles up to this 4,000 feet-high vantage point. Be sure to bring your wide-angle lens and tripod for a sweeping, panoramic shot of the whole valley.

I'm Keith W. Springer, a retired photographer from New York. For more tips on improving your photography skills, subscribe here.

Gearing Up For Nature Photography

posted Dec 6, 2016, 3:01 AM by Keith W. Springer   [ updated Dec 6, 2016, 3:01 AM ]

Although I've been a photographer for a very long time, I'm only just really focusing on nature photography now. And I've seen big differences in the gear one needs when taking photos outside more controlled environments. This goes beyond cameras (which photographers may have conflicting opinions on anyway).

For instance, one has to be very particular about what one wears out on the field. While it's mostly a matter of comfortable, casual, or formal in a typical photo shoot or event settings, out in nature, one needs to consider weather, terrain, and wildlife. So that means a nature or wildlife photographer should be ready with boots, rainwear, mosquito shirts or hoods, hats, jackets, gloves, and the like. One might even need to wear camouflage if the situation calls for it!

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Aside from making sure one's body is protected from the elements while still being functional enough to take photos, one's equipment also needs the same attention. After all, without an all-weather hood and accessories like lens protectors, waterproof casing, and storage cases, one might as well just throw thousands of dollars on equipment down the drain.

As for taking excellent photos, aside from having a reliable camera and lens kit, one might consider taking along a hot-shoe flash, a portable reflector to diffuse the sun's glare, binoculars or monoculars to make it easier to spot one's subject (especially useful for wildlife photography), a tripod and a gimbal, and a remote for the camera so one doesn't accidentally shake the camera during a crucial shot.

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And of course, I always make sure to bring a head torch, a compass, and a map to make sure I don't lose my way when I'm going out into nature. Otherwise, no one else will be able to see my photos!

Keith W. Springer is a retired photographer and current nature photography hobbyist. Follow him on Twitter for his thoughts on the art and technology of photography.

A Tip Sheet to Taking Beautiful Photos In the Rain

posted Sep 28, 2016, 4:22 AM by Keith W. Springer   [ updated Sep 28, 2016, 4:22 AM ]

Nature photography means going out in nature. That sounds like an obvious statement, yet many photographers often forget this. The slightest change in weather, the minimum cover of clouds, and people become scared to go out. What about my expensive equipment? What about the danger? No, it’s impossible.

Yet these are self-imposed limitations that only hurt the industry. Those who take photography do so because we are inherent storytellers. Our shots document life, and sometimes these moments are done in different weather conditions. Taking shots in the rain can be challenging but it is ultimately rewarding. There are a few tips that can make the endeavor easier.

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Get a good raincoat for your camera: Be prepared. There are a variety of available raincoats in the market, each designed for a specific camera type. There is personal preference to consider, but a good rule of thumb is to find one that has an adjustable elastic band around the front and back so that coverage can be adjusted at any time. A good alternative is to find a gallon-sized plastic bag and poke holes in one end for the lens to go through.

Try flash: This sounds counter-indicative but flash can help make a more visually-appealing shot. By adjusting flash coverage to a low setting (around -3.0 stops), it can add just the right amount of light to the raindrops. This does take a fair amount of trial-and-error and it is recommended to experiment (particularly in a naturally dark environment).

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Taking pictures in the rain is a wonderful experience; more people are authentic when they think no one is watching. Other subjects are quite fascinating to take pictures of as well. The skill does take time to develop but it is definitely worth it in the end.

Keith W Springer is a retired photographer. Learn more when you subscribe to this YouTube channel.

Taking Photos Against a Bright Background

posted Aug 30, 2016, 6:49 AM by Keith W. Springer

It is common knowledge to not take photos against a bright background. This is because the sun creates overexposure, causing the photograph to develop unnatural colors and not be attractive. However, new design and art sensibilities have changed because of better technologies. Modern cameras are capable of having a photo taken against a bright background without it bleeding into the subject. There are a few things to remember.

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It’s about placement: Great photography is about understanding angles. This is of particular importance when shooting against a bright background. Photographers should know where to place the subject so that the sun does not affect the quality. It is recommended that the sun be behind the subject at an angle, creating attractive shadows and contrasts. If the sun has to be directly behind the subject, there are camera settings that can be made to shield the sunlight a little.

Choose which to expose: This is an artistic decision; but one must decide which to bring focus to: the subject or the sunlight. This allows the photo to appear seamless and unified. Trying to expose both things creates a chaotic picture. Those who look at the photo will not know where to focus. Remember that photography is also a means of communication: messages must be clear. Out of respect to those who will see the photo, keep things focused and seamless.

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Budding photographers should continue practicing with their cameras to understand specific settings that suit them. As with any craft, practice and experience are the best teachers.

Keith W. Springer will always be a photographer at heart, even if he is now retired. His love for photography is a passion that defies time or conventions. Learn more by liking this Facebook page.

Nature's Beauty Captured: Five Landscape Photography Tips

posted Aug 10, 2016, 7:31 AM by Keith W. Springer

The quintessential image of a mountain range, a vast coastal shot, red-orange sunset, combination of pastel-colored sun, sky, and sea, lush green fields – captured on point and crisp, without any digital noise, and with interesting composition is probably every landscape photographer’s dream.

Here are some tips on how to make this dream a reality and become better at landscape photography:

1) Choose the right camera settings.

Cameras like DSLR or even point-and-shoot cameras have a setting that photographers or photo enthusiasts can use specifically for taking landscape photos. There’s the literal nature option, and the wide angle shot, among others to choose from. Knowing what mode to use when taking landscapes gives photographers an advantage in coming up with better images. Those who are using manual mode can check their camera’s ISO and set it to 100 or the lowest setting. If using aperture priority mode, the f/16 setting is said to be a good choice.

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2) Look for a focal point in the scenery.

Focusing on an accent in a landscape makes interesting photographs. Example, if the photographer is in the desert, the initial idea would have to be to take a wide angle shot of the vastness of the sand. However, he can take his photographs up a notch by looking for details that make the location more interesting, like the zigzagging pattern of the sand or the exact moment when the wind blows the sand.

3) Foreground elements are good.

A flat image of the city skyscraper is okay. But an image of a skyscraper, with blurred (or not) areas of people laughing or kissing or talking, would compose a better photograph, as these elements add depth to the photos.

4) Rule of thirds

Never underestimate the power of the rule of thirds in coming up with a dramatic landscape photo. The idea is to divide the image in the viewfinder into three parts and choose an element to focus on that would appear on either the left or right part of the photograph.

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5) The power of natural light.

The sun is the best lighting tool that a landscape photographer can depend on. Shoot during the golden hour – either dusk or dawn – as these times give the best depth of field for landscape photographs according to some photographers. Take water or ocean shots during noon or midday to capture the turquoise blue water.

As always, practice makes anyone better at what they do. Photographers are encouraged to experiment with lighting, techniques, and photography styles to know which among them works best.

Hi. I’m Keith W. Springer, a retired photographer. I love my walks in the park, and while doing so, I whip out my camera and take photos of people and, of course, of nature. If you want to read more articles like this, follow me on Facebook.

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