This year there were a few events I photographed. Here are some of the highlights.
This year there were a few events I photographed. Here are some of the highlights.
Virginia Scottish Games take place every year in The Plains, VA. This year was 45th Anniversary of the games. It was packed with entertainment, competitions and fun for two days. There were athletic events, music and dancing competitions, Clan Parade, Band Parade, and lots more. The day was filled with lots to do, with special events for children to keep the youngsters occupied.
However, some kids were proudly taking part in the main events. This little fellow in the picture on the left, marched proudly with the bands across the big field.
Opening Ceremony was preceded by the Clan Parade. This year it looked a little different than in previous years as the narrow entrance to the athletic field became even narrower with bands gathering to enter the field after the Clan Parade. However, nobody seemed to mind and everyone found their way.
As the clans were leaving the athletics field, the bands entered marching up to the top of the field.
The bagpipers and drummers marched up and then down the field after doing an elaborate turn in the middle of the field. And as you can see above, the little bagpiper is marching on with the band! Keeping up with the grownups could not have been easy but he did not seem concerned or distracted.
Music was all around even after the Band Parade finished. There were bagpipers practicing, playing, bands were practicing some more for the competition.
There were also live music performances and included Glengarry Bhoys, Chambless & Muse and Glencoe Lads and Friends. For the lovers of fiddling, there were fiddling performances as well in a fiddling tent not far from the Highland dance competition.
Dance competition was tough with the sky clearing, and temperatures increasing, it got very hot very quickly. Dancers were sweating it out on and off the competition floor. Below are just some of the images from the competition. While waiting for their turn come competitors were going over the steps in their heads and moved hands in the air as if they were the feet.
I tried to capture dancing action from the competition. These are just some of the shots I took, trying to illustrate a range of movements on the dance floor.
As Athletics is an integral part of the games there was lots of action on the field: heavy weight toss, light weight toss, caber toss and sheaf toss. With so many events going on, I did not get around to all of them but here are some of the images from the weight toss events.
You can see more images from the Virginia Scottish Games on my website. If you are interested in using any of the images or if you like your own photos please contact me.
Light is the heart of photography and getting it right is extremely important. Reflector is something that many starting photographers wonder about. “Do I need it? How do I use it?” If you cannot or do not want to invest in anything super fancy, you like taking pictures with natural light – a reflector is something that I would strongly recommend. There are stacks of different types, priced from very cheap to very expensive. So how do you even start?
What are you photographing? Portraits, still life, large scenes or objects or small? An answer to this question will determine what size reflector you will need. The larger the subjects, the larger should be your reflector or you will only get change of light in a small portion of your object. A related consideration is how are you going to handle a reflector? Are you going to buy a stand or are you going to hold it? Questions just keep coming and honestly you have no idea where to start or if on fact you need a reflector.
I will try to explain in this post why you should use one and when as well as how to start working with a reflector.
A reflector at its basic, is a piece of white foam board. However, more frequently reflectors are much more advanced with silver or gold foil covering them. You can make one yourself if you wish (DYI Photography How to make a photo reflector, Make your own reflector DIY tutorial) or you can even use your car sunshade. Using a white foam board will help you not to blind your subjects and depending on the board can actually produce a nice soft light. That said, the most frequently used reflector is probably the silver one. Similarly to white board it does not alter the appearance of the subject.However, you need to be careful not to blind your subject so reflect with care!
You can also use a gold foil reflector, however, it will give your subject a bit of a golden glow. Depending on your intentions that can be a desired outcome. All this is very interesting but why should you even bother using one? It is not even convenient carrying one with you all the time.
If you look at the following pictures you will notice the difference between the images on the left with no reflector and ones on the right with silver reflector on the side opposing the light source.
As you can see, in an image with no reflector you can see the dark shadows on the face away from the window. They do not look pleasing and it would be best to lighten them up. One way of doing it is to place another light source to lit up this side of the face. However, a much simpler way is to place a reflector opposite to the light.
In order to get a appearance you wish a reflector can be easily moved a little to the front or to the back. I can hear the next question, how do you hold on to a reflector while taking a picture? You can ask someone to hold it for you, place it on a stand, have your subject hold it, stand it on a chair, table, hand it from a door, coat hanger… There are many ways to place it in position.
Light will reflect in many directions, so the little drawing is a simplification of the set up.
My favorite model, toy chimp, this time has a light coming from the right, this time a strobe. A reflector in the second image is positioned on left. You may also notice that a reflector has softened shadow cast by the light.
However, those are not the only cases for using a reflector. It can be also used when shooting outdoors, especially on a very sunny day a reflector can come in handy. Would not having one affect your pictures? It does not have to, however, in such case you will need to stay clear of a bright or direct sunlight if you are taking portraits and want them to look great. Yet, even then it could be handy to bring just a bit more light onto your subject.
A little bit of reflected light here makes a difference. In this case, I was taking picture in shade and while no obvious deep shadows are seen, the image is not appealing. By using a reflector you can make a lot of difference in appearance.
Portraits and studio pictures get usually the most attention when it comes to use of a reflector, they are not the only ones that benefit from such approach. How many times have you gone out to photograph flowers? Yes, those great subject that do not walk away or fly away. Frequently we go out in nice weather or the flowers we want to photograph are in full sunshine. Yes, we can come back when it is cloudy. However, that is not always possible. So how can you make a pleasing photo while still photographing in full sunshine?
You guessed it! Use a reflector. I took one with me on an outing to National Arboretum in Washington DC. And here are some of the images it produced.
The first image was taken without a reflector. By adding a reflector I was able to reduce the highlights, soften the image just a little, bring the azalea flowers to much more natural and pleasing appearance.
Creative use of a reflector can allow you to manipulate light and highlight the area you want to bring to a viewer’s attention. In general I use mostly silver reflector as it keeps the colors true, while the gold one will warm up your images by altering the color just a bit. If this is something you wish to do, then try it out. You also need to test different angles as not all will create a desired effect. Above all be creative with objects you already have, until you truly know if you need a reflector make it happen with things you have on hand.
Cherry Blossom Festival last week was spectacular. The cold snap a week before did not seem to stop the flowers. The weather this spring though is very variable. Saturday was sunny but Sunday turned out to be overcast. While many photographers do not like bright sunlight for taking the pictures, in case of the cherry blossoms it is nice to have just a little sunlight. The contrast you can get between beautifully blue sky and white or lightly pink flowers does not have to be super sharp. Hiding under the trees when taking photos makes them lit up very gently, just like those pictures taken in 2009.
One unbelievable part of the Cherry Blossom Festival is the number of people coming. Everyone taking pictures with whatever tool they have, mobile phones, iPads, compact cameras, SLR cameras, or professional cameras. There were tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, the trick was to not bump into anyone or hit anyone with your gear.
As it was quite warm and calm, people were on the water enjoying the views, taking pictures and getting tangled up in blossoms.
The main question is: in how many ways can you photograph the blossoms and Washington landmarks, how many shapes do the trees have? I would say as many as there are people looking at them. Everyone will take different pictures and have a different point of view. Here are some of mine:
There were not just cherry blossoms, there were also beautiful tulips and kids as well as adults hiding between them. There were also some magnolias still in bloom.
Some people came all dressed up in beautiful outfits, kimonos, colorful dresses like the lady in a picture above. There was lots of color contrasting with the white and pink flowers present everywhere. Girls in white dresses, colorful dresses, boys in black suits. Everyone wanted to take a memorable image to take home.
Cherry Blossom Festival is a great time to spend outdoors with your family or friends. Just be prepared for crowds, relax and take it easy.
I decided to look back at 2015 and try to pick a few favorite images. While doing that I realized that I am not sure which images should I be showing, those I find the most amazing or those which gathered the most response on various social media? So I decided to include a selection in a few categories. All of the images can be found on my Flickr site as I used BigHugeLabs to create the mosaics you see here. Their mosaic tool is easy to use and great fun.
The images were chosen based on number of views and number of favorites.
This is a funny category, as the images are chosen by a computer algorithm, however, as you can see some are consistent with some of the other categories.
This is the category, where picking the images is really hard to do. You tend to love all of your pictures or most of them. How to pick just a few? It was not easy.
There is a story behind everyone of those images you see here. Fog in Savannah was just a few minutes when it looked amazing. The three night images all taken with the same camera but only two of them on a tripod and I had a lot of time when shooting just one of them in St. Louis. Portraits shown here are all posed except the last. The little princess shot was just one of the candid moments.
This year, I traveled to some of the most amazing places last year and picking just 4 pictures was hard but decided on the four you see. Why? A sunrise hike to Delicate Arch and being lucky for some 2 minutes was priceless, Sunset at the Windows in Arches was a game of patience till the sun goes low and comes out from behind the clouds so the colors change. This is one of the images while the sun was still high and I took this image lying on the ground. My beautiful panoramic shot would not appear nicely in the mosaic so it is not shown here, but you can see it on my website or Flickr. Bryce Canyon – a great place to visit, but poor weather can make your plans of taking pictures go out the window. Here is a moment of sunshine caught on the rocks just before it started drizzling.
I am fascinated by bees and this little one was, I think, the best capture this year. They are fast and unpredictable, but really beautiful. Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, MD, was my first. I like shooting action and this was yes, you can guess my first fast action set of pictures at the jousting arena. Then we come to the end of the year, autumn or fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year with colors and light being quite stunning. I picked the picture which showcases the gold color of the fall. Why? I like it but also I set out on a day trip to take some images of fall,, however, the weather decided that rain is the most appropriate thing in the fall. Therefore, when sun was poking through the golden leaves I was quick to take some pictures.
All this brings us to the end of the year and Christmas. The beautiful cards that we used to get at Christmas time long time ago always made me want to create an image as beautiful as they were. Not sure if I succeeded by your standards but I love this golden ball in the tree.
What is coming in the New Year? We will see. My camera is ready and already working hard this year. I hope to see more of you visiting my blog and connecting with me on Instagram, Flickr and Twitter this year. Have a great New Year!
Soon after the Scottish Games I went to my first Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, Maryland. The Festival is amazing, it allows you to experience something really different from your regular everyday life. As soon as you pass through the gates you become a part of the feast in Revel Grove, a village in Oxfordshire, England. Why? Because, this year’s story line was the Royal visit by King Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon in Revel Grove. You can see the King, Queen, the royal court and foreign guests. They are definitely enjoying themselves.
However, pirates did not completely take over. There was lots of entertainment, with The Sirens, The O’Danny Girls, Cu Dubh to name a few. And music was not the only thing you can enjoy. There were short versions of Shakespeare’s plays, acrobats, juggling, jousting and many other attractions.
Shakespeare would have been proud watching those short versions at the Globe Theater.
A lot of action and entertainment was at The Joust Arena with the Return of the Black Knight Joust. Horses and knights were all action on this hot day in a very dusty arena.
In all the excitement there were moments just worth seeing, here are a few of my favorite moments from the festival.
I enjoyed the time at the Renaissance Festival and if yo have not been to one, go and have fun! Huzzah!
This last year, 2014, I worked on portraits with models and non-models. I love working with people, trying to get their individuality and personality captured in a picture. Beautiful image might not be the most perfect picture of a person or the person the client likes.
While taking all the images in color I often explore B&W presentation as it is a much more interesting presentation. I used to work a lot with B&W film years ago and still like the way it allows you to focus on light and shapes, rather than be distracted with colors.
I worked both outdoors and indoors. I love natural light and prefer working outdoors. Light can be the most challenging aspect to get the perfect image. Through using a diffuser and reflector you can successfully take a picture and get a perfect illumination.
However, business portraits and headshots are primarily taken indoors. They are extremely important for the clients as they are intended to reflect not just their personality but also their position in a company.