Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out With the Old

Hohenfels Volks Happy New Year

Here's wishing everyone out the a bright and beautiful 2012. May God bless you with the best there is, with joy, love, and peace throughout the new year and beyond!

Thanks for allowing us to be part of your adventure in photography!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tips of the Trade- More Exposing?

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Tomorrow is the last day 2011, is everyone in Hohenfels ready for the New Year?

Today we’re going to do a short post on long exposures. By that, I don’t mean what you might be thinking… Actually, we’ll be talking about exposures made over an extended period, usually longer than 1 or 2 seconds. Most of you already know this stuff, but a little refresher is always nice. With longer nights upon us, and lovely seasonal decorations and lighting, long exposures can be a real shot maker during this time of year. To create starbursts, for instance, longer exposure means longer rays.

Chances are you already know that long exposures absolutely REQUIRE the use of a tripod. Notice the capitalization of REQUIRE. If you don’t have a tripod, and your exposure is short enough, a monopod will work, but it’s a tradeoff. 30 seconds on a monopod probably won’t get the shot you want. The best option is a slightly heavy tripod, one that has the fewest leg extensions. More leg extensions mean thinner legs and less support. When you can get way with it, don’t extend your legs, and if you have to, start with the top ones, which are thicker until you get the height you need. Try to use a tripod with a center element that doesn’t crank up, but if you do, keep it down where possible to add support.

Don’t use your finger to release your shutter. Get a good shutter release with a long enough cable for your purpose, or go wireless. Turn off your IS, if your lens has it. IS can cause blurring as the elements move looking for motion to offset. If your camera is capable, turn on mirror lock up. Even the motion of the mirror can cause subtle blurring. Compose your image, lock your mirror, and then activate your shutter. If your camera has a delay, activate it to get that extra pause to allow shake to diminish. Carry a good flashlight or other light source, as you’ll likely be working in the dark. Your kids or spouse can be helpful if you’re shooting inside to turn on the lights for focusing, then turning them off when you’re ready to start the shot.

Now I’ll give you a few ideas for using this information.

Has anyone shot star trails? This “simple” long exposure can create some interesting images. Find a strong center of interest and the North Star, Put the North Star at the center of interest and compose your image appropriately. Then expose for about 10 minutes, it will seem as if the stars are rotating around your subject. To do this, you should be in bulb mode and your remote release should have a lock function, as most cameras limit at about 30 seconds. Set your f/stop at about f/16 and your time to B. Longer times equal longer trails, shorter times equal generally brighter trails. Don’t do this during a full moon, as it works best on a moonless night.

How about light painting? Using an exposure time as above, you can use lights, flashes, and other sources to paint your scene with some good light, or create some really interesting effect. Try it with a candle or flashlight for something cool. Candles can create the illusion of fire rings and the like, check it out.

Try making a nighttime scene into a daytime shot. During the fool moon, long enough exposures can create the illusion of daylight. A nice feature of nighttime scenes is the slow shutter allows for nice effects with fog or moving water.

Of course, long exposures can be used to set a mood or allow dark areas to expose better, too. You’re only limited by your creativity! I hope you’ll post some of yours at the Facebook page and share them with us.

Enjoy the rest of your evening, and remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. We have 2 votes now, and it’s a tie. Get yours in to have a say! Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tech Talk- Print Resolution

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Hohenfels was greeted with clear skies, which soon disappeared, as usual. However, Thursday brings us a new post, one that will get you thinking and warm things up.

Today we’re going to talk about printing and preparing your image for printing. It’s a technical issue, but we’re going to concentrate on the simplest way to get your images print shop perfect, or ready for web display. Break out your files and let’s get kicking.

First things, being by their nature, first; we’re going to assume that even though you know math, you don’t like to do too much when working on your pics. Of course, I’m basing that on a notion I pulled out of thin air, so forgive me if I’m wrong. You’re going to have to do some math, but we’ll keep it simple here.

The first question we need to address is how are we presenting our images.

For web based viewing, simple jpegs for your blog or Facebook, an image 800 on the long side should be sufficient. That’s going to take up a little less than half of a monitor running 1920x1080 in landscape mode, and or a little over ¾ when the image in portrait mode. Of course, monitors with smaller resolutions will be filled to a greater extent, based on their resolution. 72 dpi for web presentation or e-mail is sufficient and will allow most monitors or browsers to present the image as desired. Using greater dimensions or a greater than 72 dpi resolutions creates larger files and slower downloads, so if you do desire larger, keep that in mind. If you try to print an 800x600 image at 72 dpi, you can get a print size of 11.11x8.33 inches. For reasons you’ll soon see, that’s unacceptable. For e-mail, generally follow the same guidelines, unless you are e-mailing it for printing.

For print presentation, things get a little trickier. Time to get your calculator out; we’re going to do some simple math. Print resolution will generally be determined by size and viewing distance, which is a function of size. First, let’s say this now- billboard images look good at 5-10 dpi, mostly because we’re so far away and can’t make out the dots. If you want a great print that you can view from a foot away, you need 300 dpi. Let’s assume that the normal person puts an 8x10 on his wall, he probably doesn’t view it from more than 2 feet away. To get a good print at 8x10, with a viewing distance of 2 feet 180 dpi is more than adequate, with 150 dpi being acceptable to most people with normal vision. Here’s the math. To get the right file resolution, multiply the desired dpi by the desired length of that side. Then do the same for the other side. So 8x10 at 180 dpi gives us 1440 by 1800 at 180 dpi in your software.

Now, here’s another catch. When viewing in an album, whether your image is 4x6 or 8x10, print at 300 dpi, as the viewing distance will likely be about 1 foot, and not much more than 2 feet. That way the folks who move in closer than that won’t see the dots formed by the printer’s ink spray.

Another guideline is the viewing distance should be 1.5 to 2 times the diagonal of the print. For a 20x30 inch print, with a viewing distance of 54 inches 64 dpi is sufficient, although 100 is better. That allows for wiggle room. I’ve had prints made 20x30, printed at 103 dpi, and viewed them at 1-2 feet and been amazed by what a good printer can do. I use Mpix or MpixPro, others like Nations Photo Lab or Shutterfly.

For those who are interested, here is a good link to a print calculator that will help you in determining what size and resolution to go with. It's also a decent resource for more information about print resolution. B&H has a great chart by camera megapixels and print size that should be a good guideline, and save you having to enter numbers!

After you do your sizing, then apply sharpening. That way the sharpening is appropriate for your print. Next time in Tech Talk we’ll look at sharpening and how to apply it, and what those terms used when referring to sharpening mean.

Let’s hope we get everyone voting and taking their pics for this week’s theme, Knock Knock.

Enjoy the rest of your evening, and remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

All Work...

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Wednesday finds us entering the downhill side of another week here in Hohenfels! I trust everyone is getting ready to ring in the New Year in an exciting and safe way!

Today we’re posting the entries in our theme for last week, Fruits of Your Labor. There were 2 entries this time around, Jennifer’s and mine. Let’s start with Jennifer’s entry.

Hohenfels Volks The Fruits of Jen's Labor
Copyright 2011 JennyO
Another great shot by Jennifer!

She described it in her own words, “Hi there, my submission is more of a layers project, the fruits of my workouts at the gym and my need to stay inspired”

My first thought was “rewarding your labor with more labor?” and I actually left that as a comment. Then I realized that after a long day, exercise is a bit of a reward, as it helps you unwind. I also realized that by working so hard, she was actually showing us the reward of her workouts, a fit and healthy lifestyle, and body. Kudos on that. The motivating quotes actually are very cool, but for the time being, I’m going to discount them, as we are talking about her photo.

I really like the idea of this image. Using the light from the window helps sculpt the form shown here and create a flowing silhouette without being a silhouette. Having lighting come in behind her allows for nice details and color to be brought out. Using the window as a light source, close up like this creates a nice bright light that wraps her body, and displays a nice fall off due to its softness. Large light sources are soft light sources! By shooting from a lower position, she creates a powerful subject, giving a bit of the dynamic to her shot! Chest height camera shots for a portrait make nice full body and 3/4 portraits, when shot from lower and looking up, it adds power and strength to your subject. A great pic using great light, with the quotes thrown in, it serves to remind us that hard work truly can be its own reward.

Next up is mine.

Hohenfels Volks A Quiet Evening
ISO 100, f/5.6, 2 seconds, 55mm
A Quiet Evening With the Princess

I chose to use a quiet Christmas scene to illustrate the reward I get from a quiet evening with my daughter, Jasmine. Of course, it’s rarely a quiet evening, but it’s almost always rewarding. Sharing her homework, eating our dinner, and enjoying either games or stories together makes the day’s labor worth the effort and more.

The cocoa had whipped topping on it, which had to be replenished to keep some form, as it melted throughout the 15 minutes of shooting for this shot. Smoothing the light with a small bounce brought out the colors in the mug, highlighted the cocoa bubbles, and added a nice bit of depth to the candle. A plus was the layering in the cocoa, from dark to white! For a similar setup, check out our last Ride Along. By allowing the light to fully hit the tree, we got some nice reflections and color from the bulbs and the tree, creating a Christmas feel, which is what spending time with the princess can be like!

Well, that’s it for tonight. For more on lighting glass, check out LIGHT—SCIENCE & MAGIC, from our last Reading List post. Also, check out Jennifer’s blog, it’s in our links to the right. She makes some great pics that deserve a look. I hope we’ll get some more pics posted in our next theme round up. Let’s get everyone voting and taking their pics for this week’s theme, Knock Knock.

Enjoy the rest of your evening, and remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Elements of Composition: Negative Space

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. As we begin another workweek here in Hohenfels, let’s take a moment to reflect on what we’re working for. I extended the deadline for submitting to last week’s theme due to the holiday. I hope everyone gets submitting.

Today we’re going to talk about NEGATIVE SPACE. There’s a lot of ground to cover, it’s a wide topic, and there are a variety of views on the subject. We’re just going to touch on some of it today, with more about it another time. Of course, if you really want to, you can Google it for loads of information.

NEGATIVE SPACE is basically the area around the subject of your photo. NEGATIVE SPACE is used in all forms of art, from photography and painting to music and gardening. They even use it when designing logos and trademarks.

When we make photos we place our subject, generally following guidelines, where we feel it will create visual appeal. This subject becomes our positive space, for want of a better descriptor in today’s context. The remaining areas are your NEGATIVE SPACE used to balance the positive space, or to add context to an image. It's generally used in conjunction with other "rules" of composition, like the rule of thirds.

In the minimalist approach, NEGATIVE SPACE often refers to space that carries minimal detail, yet allows the image to work. Much like the photo below. Notice how the background is blown almost totally white or light shades of gray. Another side of this approach is not just monotone, but lacking detail. When most folks see NEGATIVE SPACE, they tend to think that any detail detracts, so like to blur it out. Bokeh comes from this, and makes for great images. You can use blur for effects, for subjects in and of itself, or to add context.

Negative Space around the princess
ISO 320, f/5.6, 1/60, 85mm
Notice the white NEGATIVE SPACE around the princess.

Another great use of NEGATIVE SPACE is to carry minor detail and add to the context of the image. In my Christmas shot, you can see the NEGATIVE SPACE is the background. It’s just a Christmas tree, but too little information creates a blurry mess, and too much creates a distraction. By selecting my f/stop and focus to allow enough detail to show up, it shows a time, Christmas, and creates a sense of being at home. Due to decorations on the tree, and their size, blurring beyond this becomes a distraction, as does greater DOF. You see now how NEGATIVE SPACE can convey time, place, and themes. Using snow-capped mountains would have felt like a ski lodge, a Christmas market would have left one with the feeling on being Nurnberg.

Merry Christmas, Hohenfels
ISO 100, f/5.6, 2 seconds, 55mm
Merry Christmas, Hohenfels!

In both the images above, NEGATIVE SPACE has been used to create a composition that makes the image work. Don’t overlook the importance of your NEGATIVE SPACE when visualizing and composing your shots. Think about your intent and how to use NEGATIVE SPACE to aid your subject in fulfilling your intent. By knowing how to use NEGATIVE SPACE and how it affects your image, you can use it to carry some information or use it outline your subject creating an interesting image. If you use it to create a silhouette, remember the silhouette is generally your subject, not NEGATIVE SPACE.

Enjoy the rest of your evening, and remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A New Theme Knocking

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Aside from the cold and wet, it was a wonderful day here in Hohenfels. I trust everyone had a wonderful Christmas, I know ours was great!

This week’s voting produced a new them for the week. Only 5 votes were cast with the winner having 2 votes. The theme for this week is “Knock Knock (Nobody's There!)” It’s an interesting theme. How many of think it has to do with door-knockers? How many were thinking visitors, and how many just thought doors?

Have any of our themes been that simple? They may be in the future, but right now, our themes are kind of getting us into exploring our photography a little more. This week’s theme is no different, just a little simpler. For this week’s theme, the goal is to take photos of doors in public places. Photograph old doors, with loads of character to them. The kinds of doors we’re hoping to see are the kind found on old buildings. You can see them in places like Regensburg, Amberg, Munich, and a host of other cities. Don’t overlook the small towns; they have some nice quaint old building with tremendous doors, as well.

It sounds quite simple, doesn’t it? Of course, there is a catch. For this week, your photos should feature no one in them. The doors have to be old. There should be some sign of life, without anyone present. They should be the center of interest, but not take up more than about 1/3 of the image. This allows us to work on our composition and placement, as well. I hope this isn’t too much, given the season. Perhaps that will actually work to your favor, as seasonal decorations can make nice features in your photograph.

My image for the Fruits of Your Labor theme is posted at our Facebook page. I haven’t seen any others, but I’m hoping you will be getting them up tonight before the cut off later this evening. Tomorrow we’ll be discussing negative space as an element of composition, and its impact on our images. That will be a second post; the first one will be your images for the Fruits of Labor theme.

Enjoy the rest of your evening, and remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas From Hohenfels Volks

Greetings one and all.

Hohenfels Volks merry Christmas Hohenfels
May you be blessed with all the warmth this Christmas season brings! God bless!

We wish you the merriest of Christmases!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Ride Along For the New Year

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Aside from the cold and wet, it was a wonderful day here in Hohenfels. 2 days until Christmas and things are looking bright!

Today we’re going to stay in the living room for another ride along. This time we’re shooting my annual New Year’s Toast shot. Every year around this time, I like to shoot a wine and lights shot that I’ll use to greet friends and family for the New Year. So break out your flash, some wine, and let’s get working.

Hohenfels Volks  Almost
ISO 100, f/32, 30 seconds, 49mm
Here's the image.

As you can see in the photo below, I’ve included my set up. Out of the frame, camera left about 3 feet is a flash on a tripod, shooting through a 42” umbrella at 1/32nd power, at about chest height. The flash provides light for the tree and to capture some detail in the scene. By placing everything on some black card stock, we can minimize glare and reflections, or at least control them to an extent.

Hohenfels Volks setting it up
Here is the setup I used for the above image. A few more feet between the tree and the subject would have rendered some magnificent starbursts.

Having the white card to the right provides some bounce from the flash and provides a little bit of detail and edge enhancement for the wine bottle. On a side note, LBV Port is great for a toast, and while sweet, is perfect to ring in the New Year. Port wine developed a series of traditions around it, especially in naval circles, which is part of the joy of it.

I didn’t want too much detail and lighting, as the bottle has no paper label. The label is painted on, increasing the chance of huge glare and direct reflections. I knew that I would have some glare from the candlelight, as well as some reflection of the candle itself. It actually looks a lot better than I thought, as the candle looks like a thin taper, not a ball.

Shooting at f/32 allowed some great starbursts on the lighting. I thought it was a little much, and the bottle looked a little off being set apart so much. I re-did the shot with the bottle closer and shot at f/22. This allowed a small amount of starburst, but nothing overly intrusive, while keeping a long exposure. It also took out the reflection of the candle. Another nice effect is the diminishing of the bounce to a level that retains the edge of the bottle while adding just enough fall-off to create a mystery about the wine.

Here’s the final version. I think this is the one I’ll go with, even though I’ll try several more versions.

Hohenfels Volks  Happy New Year, Hohenfels
ISO 100, f/22, 30 seconds, 45mm
I think this one better captures the message and adds a bit of the old world to the image. Overall the depth of field provides detail that enhances the shot, and the composition just seems to welcome you into the scene.

I have my shot for this week’s theme in the can. How about you, have you done yours? This week’s theme and the tree allowed for several days of playing around with lighting and thought patterns. What is my reward? How do I enjoy it? I toil and work to enjoy something, but what? How do I light it? The list is endless, but I think I have something that is rewarding for me and may even interest you! It follows a pattern similar to today’s shot, if you like spoilers. How’s your shot coming along?

Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas. May this weekend be blessed with joy, love, family, peace, and true rewards! Remember, there is so much to life, that we haven’t even begun to measure our gifts.

Remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Invasion of the Gnomes!

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. There are only so many ways to say, “It’s bloody cold,” so I’ll dispense with the description of Hohenfels weather and get right down to it!

Jennifer was once again the only participant for the theme. With Christmas break upon us, and some time off for me, I know I‘ll be participating more in the themes. Here is her magnificent entry.


Image copyright 2011 JennyO

In her words, “I love Gnome's at Christmas... The kind with their little noses peaking out? I love the quaint feel of Christmas past they have…”

Very interesting composition here, it shows some good boke and I love the color in the lights. Gnomes are really cool, and when they’re not scurrying around your lawn, make great subjects. The soft focus adds to the appeal, making this pic almost come to life with the wonder of Christmas and the season. The big gray hat with the red heart on it offsets that particular gnome, which seems to be Jennifer's favorite.

Thanks for sharing this pic; it works really well for the theme and for the season! It'll also be posted under our "Your Works" page.

On to this week’s theme. Something to keep in mind, the fruits of your labor do not have to be physical, nor do your labors. Time with the family can be both a labor and the reward depending on your presentation. As mentioned in the theme during the voting, hard work is its own reward. While many of us don’t think this way in today’s society, it’s a saying that still holds true. Break out the camera, visualize your rewards and how you’ll present them, and watch them appear.

Remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme, we don't want another tie. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A New Theme- The Fruits of Labor

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Another week is starting, this post is late, and things are beginning to get icy here in Hohenfels. There are signs of the season all around us, both with the small amount of snow remaining and the decorations everywhere. Christmas parties are keeping everyone busy, celebrating the season, and rejoicing in the warmth of their friends and family. I hope everyone is ready for Christmas and for the break it brings.

There were 7 votes cast for this week’s theme, which led to a 2-way tie between “Flattery (Not everything complimentary is flattery!)” and “The Fruits of Labor (Hard Work Is Its Own Reward???)” each with 3 votes. That means it’s my choice, and after rolling the dice, the winner is “The Fruits of Labor (Hard Work Is Its Own Reward???).”

Everyone toils at something. Every day we strive to produce something of value. The farmer toils at raising his crops, the rancher at raising his cattle, and the vintner at creating his distinguished wines. Some of us sell our time and work at producing during that time what our employers require, for the agreed upon price. Whether you’re an employee or self-employed, you labor for something. In the end, there is an exchange of one value for another, and the value you receive is what you use to acquire or build the fruits of your labor. Maybe you spend your time gardening, maybe you spend all day cooking a wonderful dinner, complete with fresh bread and a hearty beef stew, these things are your toils. The centerpieces for your table made of your own flowers or that rib sticking stew are the fruits of your labor.

This theme is about showing those fruits and their enjoyment. If it’s just showing a few moments with the family, or the vintner sampling his wine in the fields while viewing a magnificent sunset, show us. Some fruits are intangible, for instance the soldier who toils for liberty and the doctor who labors to heal, the reward can be intangible. If your fruits, the reward you get for your toils, are intangible, go back to what art is. It’s the concretizing of values or ideas. This theme will probably require you visualize your composition more, as well as be more creative than usual. Throw some ideas around your head, pick a few, and give them a try. You'll start seeing it come together, much like the product of your labors!

All that being said, the theme this week is show something you feel is a reward for your labors. That soup, that wine, or the blanket of freedom under which we warm our souls, show us and share with us the value you receive. Even if it’s just a pair of callused hands, it shows us that hard work and its rewards can become art!

There are a lot of great things here in our Hohenfels area, reward yourself today, and show us that reward for this theme! I’ll post the submissions tomorrow for the Expose Yourself theme. So far, we only have one! I hope we’ll get some more. Next week we’ll have more, as time is becoming momentarily more available for me to participate.

Remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reading List: Light– Science & Magic

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Another wet, rainy, and cold Thursday draws to a close, making us thankful the warmth of home!

Today’s reading list is LIGHT—SCIENCE & MAGIC an Introduction to Photographic Lighting, by Fil Hunter, Steve Biver, and Paul Fuqua.

This book is a veritable goldmine of lighting knowledge. These guys have put together something that no photographer should be without. This great book introduces us to light, its characteristics, and how to use it. There are lessons, exercises, and lots of ideas to be had here. They’re on the fourth edition now, which just goes to show you how valuable a resource it is.

Much of what they cover applies even without a flash. The nature of light is the same, whether you’re using a flash or shooting ambient only. The book starts at the most basic information about light, runs through light transmission, reflection, refraction, and onto to more photographic information. They cover angles and the families of angles, as well as some very useful stuff that will make you say “Aha, that’s how they did it!”

One of the early points in the book is that not every photographer has enough lighting equipment to light everything perfect, but every photographer has enough to do things well. A flash or studio strobes are nice, but light is light. It generally acts the same every time, which allows us to use almost any light source for great results.

The other really nice thing about this book is that it covers even tricky subjects like glass and metal. That alone makes it an invaluable resource to someone trying to learn lighting. It’s definitely worth the price. Check it out and let me know what you think.

I hope things are coming along nicely as you work on exposing yourself for this week’s theme. I can’t wait to see what you Volks come up with!

Remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Around Hohenfels: Christmas Time

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Pack your camera for another trip Around Hohenfels.

Today we’re going to Nuernberg’s Christmas market, so get your camera ready!

The best way to get there for our purposes is via the train. You can get a train in Parsberg and it takes about 30-45 minutes to get there. The trip costs about 30 euros if you get the Bayern pass, which is good for round trip, up to 5 adults.


ISO 400, f/4.5, 1/50 second
Inside the old Handswerk area across from the Bahnhof. Using the lamps, leading lines take us into the tree.

As you exit the station, from underground, you are at the old walls and the Handswerk section. There are some great shots in this old area, especially at this time of year. Once you exit onto the main strip toward the market, you’ll be greeted by booths and vendors selling gluhwein, bratwurst, leibkuchen, and so on. The ½ meter feurwurst is hot and spicy, but has a nice taste and warms you up!


ISO 100, f/8, 1/4 second
Decorations on a bratwurst stall


ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/50 second
Brats of all types for sale.

As you proceed towards the actual “market proper,” you’ll encounter more booths selling everything from fruits to flowers, bratwurst to cocoa! What a walk, cold air, and a mug of your warm drink of choice. It feels like Christmas. Along the way, you're likely to see buskers dressed in holiday outfits.


ISO 100, f/8, 1/13 second
Santa and his dog take a break and pose for us.

Once you get into the market area, it’s crowded, people everywhere. Booths set up and selling all kinds of Christmas decorations, toys, food, and more gluhwein! Along the way you can buy a nice hot mug of real hot chocolate, the kind made with hot milk and real melted chocolate! Don’t dally with it, it starts skimming over, and unless you’re stirring or drinking it, gets pretty thick. If you have kids with you, it’s a real treat. They love it! Down one of the side ways is the kinder market, where rides of all types are available for the little shoppers. It’ll drain your pocket, and leave you no time for shopping if you don’t set a limit.


ISO 400, f/8, 1/32 second
Handmade decorations for sale. Putting the globes on one side, and balancing with the light makes a warm reminder of Christmases long ago, as well as a reminder of the light of Jesus entering our lives.

Back at the market, a trip through the booths and stands gives you some good choices for this year’s tree, both on it and under it! Don’t forget to take in the nativity scene and the towers erected for the celebrations, and keep an eye out for the Christmas angel making her rounds! It’s almost like a small town feeling here in the city. Don’t forget to visit the churches, as they are done up for the season, as well. Bring your flash and knowledge of the exposure triangle. Remember to make a small offering, it will be appreciated.

On your way back to the train, stop and get that cocoa or gluhwein, keep the cup, as the cost is included, Don’t forget to get that feurwurst to warm you up. Enjoy the train ride back to Parsberg and Hohenfels, while you review the great shots you got.

Back in Hohenfels now, you can work on planning and visualizing your shot for this week’s theme! It doesn’t have to be as deep as we discussed yesterday, just show a bit of your likes or dislikes, and make us see it, too. You’ll pull of something wonderful if you can make people feel what you want them to.

Remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Your Bubbles

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Another cold and frosty morning stirs through Hohenfels and the surrounding area like a spoon through cocoa.

Our first post today features all the submissions your submission from last week’s theme, bubbles of light. Once again, Jennifer was the only one who submitted. Here’s the great shot she gave us.


Jennifer’s bubble

It’s very interesting, and it shows us how light can have its ups and downs, as it were. Using the lamp the way she did, shows us exactly how light can form a bubble. By putting herself in the corner, and using a somewhat rounded light source, she created a bubble of light around herself. You can see the light falloff on the 2 walls and the shape of the light itself really worked in this shot.

Due to the nature of light, you can create a source that seems to be a bubble using anything rounded. One good way to see the bubble is to place an IPad with a white screen face up under a semi-transparent Tupperware bowl. When you place a vertical object next to it, you can the bubble shaping up, just like the bubble that took form in Jen’s photo. By placing more objects at differing distances from the light source, you can create even more of a bubble. It’s all caused by light and the physics behind it. The primary thing to know about light is the inverse square law. If an object’s distance to a light source is double, the light’s apparent power is quartered due to spread and the nature of light.

In a later post today, we’ll be going to Nuernberg’s Christmas market, so get your camera ready!

Remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Exposure and Exposing?

Greetings, Hohenfels, welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. Monday in Hohenfels, the start of a new week, finds the children going to school, the adults going to work or the fields, and the rest of us going in 10 different directions.

Of course, here in Hohenfels, Monday also means another theme. Based on the voting, this week’s theme will be “Expose Yourself (Umm, NOT like that!),” with 50% of the votes. 50% sounds so much nicer than 3 votes. This week, we should get a lot more votes, and a lot more participation, I hope!

The purpose of last week’s theme was to see the light, the way light moves, and the way it rises and falls. I hope, even if you didn’t participate, you were able to do some work with lighting. One of the tips I offered was to place an IPad with a white screen under a semi-transparent bowl. The bowl creates a half dome, allowing for easier viewing of the “bubble” created by the light. This “bubble” is not so much a thing you see, but something you notice in the way it interacts with the scene. I’ll have more about the nature of light and what I call “the bubble effect” in another post.

Moving on to this week’s theme, it should be easier than last week’s! At least, it should be somewhat easier. Because photography is an art, this week’s theme deals less with the technical side, and more with the expressive and artistic side of photography. This is where it may be harder, too. Because to do a shot that meets this week’s theme, "Expose Yourself (Umm, NOT like that!)," means injecting your self into the image. Notice how I separated yourself into 2 distinct words here, your self. By injecting your self into an image, you can create an impact with your photos and control the reaction of the viewer.

Here are some thoughts to make it easier for you to Expose Yourself. One way is to think of that which you value, it may be a possession, a person, or an ideal. Some ideas are a family member, the relationship you share with a special friend, integrity, hard work, and liberty, just something positive in which you place high stock. Think about how that which you value makes you feel, and how you can best show, and share, the feeling you get. The key here is not to be in or part of the image, beyond its creation.

Perhaps your memories of long ago Christmases with family gathering, and the smell of the tree can bring a feeling to you like nothing else. Share that feeling by creating an image that represents the memories. Maybe you hate the way the politicians use the commoditization of poverty to stay in power; it really gets your goat to see people enslaved to the greed of the powerful elite. Capture something that shows that, that shows us the way these people bring you down, that makes us angry right beside you. Of course, it could just be as simple as that magnificent golden pink glow as the sun sets over an idyllic village somewhere in the heart of Bavaria. Tinged with light pinks, purples, and bold fiery reds, the sunset made you feel like the magic of childhood. Share that feeling!

The most important thing for this week is to bring your feelings to fruition through your work, to share that feeling and moment with us, to make us feel something you felt when you viewed the scene before taking the image, to wow us the way you were wowed. Now doesn’t that make you feel better than what you were expecting when you saw “Expose Yourself” as one of the choices?

Remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Shoot for the Star...bursts!

Greetings, Hohenfels, welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. I hope the week has been gentle to all.

How are the bubbles coming? Are they taking form, or are you stuck? Have no fear; your vision can carry the day. Just stop to see the light and you’ll come up with a winner.

Jennifer, who’s blog can be found here, liked a link the other day that I found very interesting. Click it Up a Notch is a great source for learning photography. The blog has some great tips for beginners and anyone looking to improve their images, and is backed up with some wonderful photos. Check it out!

The post she liked and I read was 5 Tips for Shooting Christmas Lights. Nice post, nice pics, cool blog. I decided to do a post about starbursts. They make for some awesome additions to a good composition.

The first thing to understand about starbursts is that they are caused by light diffraction. The light bends as it passes the blades in your diaphragm, which changes the way the light hits your sensor. Light that is brighter than the surrounding areas tends to streak as it passes over the blades, creating starbursts. We all love to see some of them in our images, especially nighttime and Christmas shots. The actual rays or spikes in the starburst are caused by light passing over the blades where 2 of them come together. The more blades you have the more rays you’ll get. The funny thing is that even numbers of blades cause the number of rays to match the number of blades. In a lens with an odd number of blades, the number of rays is actually twice the number of blades. I’m not a physicist, so I can’t explain it. You can get decent starbursts even at apertures like f/8 or f/11 depending on your focal length. Most people tend to shoot for them at f/22 and sometimes higher. The shorter the focal length you use, the smaller the aperture is at the same f/stop, and the more likely you are to get good ones, at least that’s the theory.

Another important thing to remember, if you want to print your photos at 8x10 or larger, is that over about f/16 on an APS-C sensor you start losing sharpness in the details. It’s a trade off, so think about how you wish to present your pic.

Here are some photos that show the effect and the difference in blade count between 2 lenses.


ISO 100, f/16, 30 seconds, 200mm
If you count the rays on the large light on the bridge, you'll see this lens had 9 blades. This shot and the next one were taken in Wurzburg with an old 300D from Canon.


ISO 100, f/22, 30 seconds, 165mm
You can see a slight drop-off in sharpness, but more pronounce rays.


ISO 100, f/16, 10 seconds, 18mm
Notice 6 rays emanating from the bulbs. The lens had 6 blades to the diaphragm.


ISO 100, f/8, 20 seconds, 55mm
The starbusts here are minimal, and slightly soft. At a shorter focal length, perhaps something better might have appeared. This was taken with an old Canon 300d in Hohenfels, as was the previous photo.

There is another way to get starbursts. You can buy filters for your lens. You can choose from any number of rays and they apply the effect equally to all lights. That takes the fun out of it, but they could come in handy.

Here in Hohenfels, and in the towns around us, there are so many places that light up a tree or wreaths. Get out there and you'll find something to shoot for the starbursts! You don't even have to leave your house during this time of year! Try it on your tree, you'll see some cool things happen.

Remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. I hope to see more than the 4 votes we have right now. 19 Volks like us on Facebook, I hope 19 will vote! Are you thinking of your bubbles? I hope to get something in if time allows me to shoot today! Remember to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Morning Moment

Greetings, Hohenfels, welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. I hope everyone is having a great week. Hohenfels can be beautiful this time of year, so keep your eyes open for photo ops.

Today’s post is featuring photos submitted for last week’s theme. Only one was submitted. That was by Jennifer O. I'm sorry I didn't get this up yesterday, but here you go.



The photo was an interesting thought. I wish I had thought of it! Nice idea, capturing the motion and the never-ending madness that is our day-to-day morning rush. The composition is good and the lighting is there. I like the way there is some light in the sky, letting you know it’s almost light out and makes the nice colors of the trees pops out at you. The diagonal track of the sign makes it seem like there was speed going on here and adds a nice touch. That may be an upcoming theme, speed or rush, what do you think?

The one thing I would suggest for a shot of this type is to use your zoom instead of actually driving. By using your zoom and staying stationary, you can read the words in the sign and have a sense of warp speed motion. A long exposure, focused sharply on the sign would have made an extra bit of niceness to a good photo. The secret for that is using a slow shutter speed, and maintaining your focal length for about half the exposure and zooming in, or out, over the remaining half. The big thing about doing it that way is the safety factor. Using the remote was probably safer than some folks I’ve seen, shooting out their windows while they drive by something nice!

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your really cool photo and your great idea with the rest of here in Hohenfels. Thanks also for spreading the word and the link. I can’t wait to see what you and everyone else comes up with for this week’s theme, bubbles of light.

Remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Are you thinking of your bubbles? Remember to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tiny or Big, it's Bubbles!

Greetings, Hohenfels, welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Today is definitely a Monday; if ever there were one, this would be it. Hohenfels, complete with cold, rain, sun, hail, and whatever else came our way. Don't worry, though, Christmas will soon be here in our little Hohenfels area, and all the joys that come with it!

Well, this week one person submitted for the theme. Thanks to Jennifer for your submission, I’ll try to get it up here tomorrow after discussing it with her. Then, there is the news that the 6 votes are counted. Our theme for the week will be Bubbles (... Of Light, DUH!) This is more advanced than last week’s; so let’s get this ball rolling.

This one may make you think, it may make you scream, or it may make you rise to the challenge and create something magical. Of course, it may make you do all 3! A bubble of light? What is it? What does it do, and what’s it look like? How am I supposed to do this without any knowledge of this bubble thing, and if this one bursts and ruins the economy, who gets the blame?

Relax; it’s nothing like that. Creating a bubble of light is a trick that can be seen by looking back at our post on chiaroscuro, which can be found here. The biggest secret is that light moves and bounces according to your light source. One of the easiest ways to create the bubble for this week’s theme is to use off camera flash and a semi-translucent half dome. The effect can be even more apparent with subjects cloaked in dark and shrouded in light, with nice transition between the two. Of course, it’s not really like a bubble, but presents the illusion of one.

By examining the image from that post, you can see how it seems as if the ladies are surrounding a glowing orb. By knowing how and where light falls, Van Honthorst was able to create the magical lighting in his image. It seems as if the matchmaker is closer than the older ladies are, almost like she’s showing a treasured globe. The lighting here, and the resulting bubble, come from the shape of the candle flame. Another type is to make it seem as if your subject is encased in a bubble of light, almost like a snow globe. Examine some rounded shapes, balls, bubbles, footballs, and other items to see how the light falls on them. Knowing that can help you figure out how the light radiates from them, and what kind of bubble you might expect.

For those without a flash or the ability to trigger it remotely, you can use lamps of any kind, LED flashlights, anything that will create the type of bubble you want to make. The important thing to remember is the shape of your light source and how the light will radiate from it. Flash or other types of light will produce almost identical results in that department. You can also work some more of this type of magic with multiple lights, and colored gels. When you shoot in B&W, the color of your light can be changed, and a matching filter added to increase the effect even more. The sharper your transition to dark from light at the very edges, the more abrupt and sharp your bubble will appear. Keep that in mind.

If I get some time this week, I will try to make an example image, but I probably won’t have much time. The new poll for next week’s theme is up, it expires at midnight on Sunday night. Here's hoping we get at least 19 votes this time around! Get your votes in, vote early, and let’s bring volks into this theme.

Tonight, take the time to check out some spheres, globes, bubbles, and balls. Take a little time to visualize your own shot; even it’s an exact copy of Van Honthorst’s painting. Write down some ideas. Then during the week, refine your visions and your notes. Once you’re ready and your vision is fully fleshed out, set up your scene, blow your bubble, and get the pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The One That Got Away

Greetings, Hohenfels, welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. I hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Today’s just going to be a thought for you. Something to mull over and think about when you’re going out to shoot. It’s called attention to detail. It’s something you need to practice, even when you’re visualizing your shot!

Yesterday was a long day! After work, I went over to the community tree lighting with the daughter, for her it was to see Santa, for me it was to take pics! Take pics I did, a whole lot! After getting a few shots, including some that couldn’t be redone, I discovered my IS was turned off on the lens I was using. That meant the pics I had shot at 1/30 were going to be slightly soft in the focus, and that also meant I was feeling a little down! After writing about IS in a previous post about lenses, I should have known better. D’OH!

Anyway, after kicking myself, and turning the IS back on, I went on to get some decent shots. After seeing Santa and some of our wonderful friends, we went to a little party for a friend’s birthday, and I shot a handful of keepers. Another thing I had forgotten was to bring the tripods and lighting mods, which meant more effort to get the light right, but the shots were worth it.

The point is, check your equipment before turning it on. Check it before you even begin thinking about using it. Check it as part of your visualizing; by seeing yourself take the actions to make your vision reality, you’re rehearsing the steps you need to succeed. It will make your pictures better and save you the shame of losing the one that didn’t get away until you snipped the line!

O.K., enough of that mourning the lost shots, remember to get your votes in for next week’s theme. We have a 4-way tie right now, and that means it’s my choice if we end the week that way! This week our theme is “Morning Moments.” I hope to see everyone participating! Get shooting and start posting at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting here is always welcome, too!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ride Along Shot- Avoiding the Cold

Greetings, Hohenfels, welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. I hope everyone is having a great week and looking forward to something great this weekend.

For our ride along today, I thought we’d stay in lovely Hohenfels. In fact, it’s so cold and gloomy; I thought we’d stay inside. Let’s go to the living room and get started.

This is my first Christmas photo of the season. There’ll be many more, I’m sure, but getting this one set up and in the camera is always exciting. Last year, it was a bottle of wine with a glass and the tree.

Hohenfels Volks- our first Christmas shot
ISO 100, f/4.5, 15 Seconds, 53mm, 3000K
Merry Christmas!

Come Christmas season, I love to take creative shots that illustrate this time of year. I visualized this shot all day while cruising Nuernberg's Christkindlmarkt. Getting home, I rushed into the house to get the shot set up and going. Of course, this kind of shot requires shooting on a tripod with IS turned off. That means using a remote trigger. I like using a remote trigger cable, some folks prefer wireless. Locking up the mirror allowed for that little bit of extra sharpness in the glass and the decorations surrounding the candleholder. Focus was on the glass to minimize the DOF between tree and candle. Placing the candle holder in sharp focus at or near an intersection of thirds isolates it and makes it the obvious center of interest, while allowing the eye to wander through the tree and memories of long ago Christmases.

This shot proved more difficult than first glance implies. I’ll be trying this one a few more times to get it perfect, but I really enjoy the way it turned out. It just says “Merry Christmas!”

After several failed attempts using multiple flashes to light the tree some and the glass, I went with a longer exposure and used just one flash. After getting the exposure started, I manually fired the flash at 1/128th power with the head zoomed in to 110mm. The flash comes in from camera left at about 45 degrees to the candleholder. The second pop of the flash at the same level was again camera right, zoomed to 50mm almost dead at the tree. The third and final pop, again at 1/128th and 110mm zoom, was aimed at the platter and decorations around the candleholder from camera right.

By setting the flash at minimum power and adjusting the zoom, I was able to bring out the green of the tree, the colors of the decoration, and use the longer focal length with a wide aperture to create some nice boke, or blur, behind the glass. It also highlighted the edges of the glass, and shows the nice, almost home spun, texture of the candle glass. It also allowed some detail in the decorations around the base of the candle.

Shooting at 15 seconds allowed me to manually zoom, aim, and pop the flash. That brought the whole thing together, bringing out detail while allowing a warm winter night feel to the image. The highlights in the image were slightly overexposed to allow for detail in the shadows, and it was darkened during conversion from RAW in Canon Digital Photo Pro software. I lowered the color temperature to about 3000K to bring out the green in the tree and hint at the blue in the platter holding the decorations and candleholder.

The candleholder was one that Mrs. Hohenfels-Volks picked up at a local market. The little things you can pick up at Moebelhof and other such places can really add some flavor to your photos. I’ll definitely try this shot again, perhaps with a snoot over the flash and some black cards to darken the highlights in the glass, perhaps giving a more old timey feel to it.


Same settings as above image
Here’s another version with the color temperature raised to about 3500K. Adding in that little bit of red makes it feel almost as if a fireplace is blazing somewhere in the room.

Now on to other things, remember to get your votes in for next week’s theme. We have a 3-way tie right now, and that means it’s my choice if we end the week that way! This week our theme is “Morning Moments.” I hope to see everyone participating! Get shooting and start posting at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting here is always welcome, too!