Keith W. Springer Blogs

Tips for taking close up nature shots on your phone

posted Aug 11, 2017, 5:57 AM by Keith W. Springer   [ updated Aug 11, 2017, 5:58 AM ]

Today’s smartphone cameras have come a long way. In fact, they have been replacing some of the functions of DSLR cameras. Manufacturers have improved the cameras’ lenses that they can produce quality macro photos. If you want to try out macro photography on your phone, here are some tips. 

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Choose your subject wisely For you pull off a crisp close up photo, you have to be relatively close to your subject, slowly moving the lens in to focus in on the detail you want to capture. To avoid blur, for example, you might want to choose a subject that is still instead of something that keeps on moving. 

Record video if you have to In photography, the result is more important than the process. Macro lenses can detect even the tiniest movement and pressing the button to take the photo can cause blur. So, if you have to, you can get a crisp, still photo from a video you have recorded. 

Get really close Since smartphone camera lenses don’t have the kind of zoom that DSLRs have, you need to be really, really close to your subject to capture a detailed, macro shot. Also, experiment with angles and lighting. 

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Hi there, the name’s Keith W. Springer and I’m a retired photographer from New York. I spend my retirement taking photos of national parks. Visit my page to know more.

Black And White Manipulation:Photo Editing Before The Digital Age

posted Jul 21, 2017, 1:53 AM by Keith W. Springer

I began photography at an age where everything was done with film and dark rooms were still standard practice. Back then, everything was done manually, and getting it right was a time-consuming process that was heavily dependent on chance. After all, you couldn’t just *look* at your photos to see what you took.


Of course, this doesn’t mean that photos cannot be manipulated. Even before the advent of photo editing software where one can magically erase wrinkles and look improbably young (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything, a-wink), people have found ways to edit photos to create creative (and at times very convincing) images.

Photo manipulation is as old as photography itself.The first daguerreotypes could create double exposures, allowing cheeky photographers to construct comical and whimsical images from their photographs. The art of double exposure would continue long into the 20th century, allowing photographers to compose spectacular photorealistic images that wouldn’t exist in real life.

Of course, there’s a bit of a dark side to this practice. Hucksters would often pose as “spirit photographers,” purporting to capture ghosts on film. Meanwhile, some less than scrupulous governments would edit official photos to remove unwanted people from the frame.

Famous UFO hoaxes were also the product of ingenious pre-photoshop photomanipulation. The fact that many of them were in black and white made the deception more than easy to accomplish.


Today, double exposure photomanipulation is still practiced by many photographers today as an artistic challenge, which lets them compose and create surreal images without the use of digital editing.

I’m Keith W. Springer, a retired photographer who traded the dark rooms for Instagram. For more on my nostalgic trips down photography’s long analog history, visit my blog.

Take pro portrait shots with your smartphone camera

posted Jul 17, 2017, 11:03 PM by Keith W. Springer   [ updated Jul 17, 2017, 11:04 PM ]

Today’s smartphone camera has come a long way since it first came out in the early 2000’s. It can now even compete with DSLRs in some aspects of photography. But if you’ve ever tried taking a portrait of someone, you know that unless you go outside they tend to be a little bland. 

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Using the phone’s built-in flash isn’t going to cut it if you want to produce a professional-grade portrait. But there’s a technique that photographers are doing to produce sharp portrait images using their smartphones: a lamp.

It isn’t a magic trick; you can call it a hack, though. We’re just solving the most common problem with smartphone pictures: they need a lot of light to work. 

What you need to do is use a lamp, and light your subject’s face very closely. Then, use your photography skills to frame and snap a portrait photo. A little post-processing will help, and the end result is a pretty nice portrait.

Now, you still need to have your subject strike a good pose for you (while being lit right up his or her face), and you still need to get the good angles, but you don’t necessarily need to have an expensive camera to snag a great portrait photo. 

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Hey there I’m Keith W. Springer. I’m a retired photographer from New York. Most of my days are spent taking photos of national parks. Visit my page to know more.

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.

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