Tag: Michigan

How to Do Winter Street Photography

How to Do Winter Street Photography

The ability to capture a genuine, authentic moment in time is what immediately drew me into photography. There’s a magic to photographing a scene and knowing you did it without posing or manipulating a scene. Once I discovered that street photography encapsulated this type of 

Why You Don’t Always Have to Photograph During the Golden Hour

Why You Don’t Always Have to Photograph During the Golden Hour

It is written in many tutorials that in order to photograph successfully, one must photograph during the Hour of Gold. Fear not, fellow photographers, for a beautiful photograph may be captured any time you’re out with your camera, even if that time isn’t the golden 

Why the Canon AE-1  Makes a Great Film Camera

Why the Canon AE-1 Makes a Great Film Camera

Choosing the right film camera can be incredibly overwhelming. There are seemingly endless options out there for you to use. But, worry not. If you’re looking for a simple camera that can be found for a reasonable price, the Canon AE-1 gets the job done, and done well.

Film photography has been experiencing a resurgence since its bleaker days. Cameras that used to cost very little have become more and more expensive.

When film had become unpopular with the rise of digital cameras, I grabbed some discount deals on a number of excellent film cameras—Leica M6, Mamiya 7 and a Canon F-1. Yes, there was a time when these cameras were more than half of the price they are now.

Traverse City, Michigan
Camera: Canon AE-1

It didn’t take long for the word to spread that I was an avid film photographer. Before long, thankfully, family and friends would send me old film cameras. It was extremely humbling and I’m forever thankful.

One camera that was given to me by gracious friends—it previously belonged to their father—was a Canon AE-1. I’d heard that the camera was a solid workhorse, and it is. The only reason I didn’t purchase one earlier was because I’d already had a Canon F-1 in my stable, and an older Canon TX.

As usual, I won’t get into too many technical descriptions in this post; those can be found here.

What I will talk about is how usable and fun the Canon AE-1 is.

Traverse City, Michigan
Camera: Canon AE-1

Old cameras can be fussy. So, it took a bit for this camera to be fun.

When I first pressed the shutter of the camera, an audible wheezing sound was emitted instead of the ka-thwack of a properly working shutter mirror.

Almost every one of my film cameras are sent off for a CLA (clean, lube, adjust) service. That way, I know I won’t be guessing if everything is working, and I’ll know when it’s been serviced. It’s just easier, and I’m sure I waste heaps less film by putting my rolls through faulty cameras.

A quick Google search lead me to camera repair technician extraordinaire, Joe Careta. He sent it back to me quickly after doing his magic to the camera. The camera looked, felt and sounded like it was new.

Freshly-serviced Canon AE-1 in hand, I couldn’t wait to hit the field with it. My lens of choice was the Canon 50mm FD f/1.4 S.S.C. This is a lens that produces stunning results, outside of what, and how, the photographer chooses to photograph.

In the Field with the Canon AE-1

Loaded with some Kodak Portra ISO 400 35mm film, I carried the camera with me until every one of the 36 exposures on the roll were exposed.

Let me tell you, this camera is fantastic and a pleasure to use.

The Canon AE-1 doesn’t hold you, or itself, back. It isn’t too heavy or too light; the shutter sound isn’t too quiet or too loud; and the viewfinder isn’t too dark or too bright—as if there is such a thing as a viewfinder that’s too bright.

And, one of the most important considerations, it’s priced extremely reasonably. A quick search on eBay resulted in me finding some nice examples of the camera for between $100-$200. Actually, for the price, this is probably one of the best values around.

Traverse City, Michigan
Camera: Canon AE-1

The one aspect of this camera I didn’t test was the light meter. I’ve become accustomed to using my handheld light meter, so I didn’t test the camera’s built-in one. The needle was bobbing up and down, though, responsively with exposure suggestions.

There’s a lot to be said for a camera that is easy to use. One of my favorite photographic experiences is when a camera setup doesn’t get in the way of a photograph. The AE-1 allows the user to quickly control the shutter speed and aperture, which allows complete creative control to the user.

With the AE-1, as soon as I wanted to take a picture, I lifted the camera to my eye and snapped the shutter button. The shutter sound was pleasant and the size of the camera was perfect.

Since the Canon AE-1 is older, it has that vintage component to it that also enhances the photographic experience.

Michigan
Camera: Canon AE-1

If you’re looking for your first film camera, or you’d like to have a general purpose camera that will work and won’t break the bank if something happens to it, or would simply like to have an enjoyable film-shooting experience, I can’t recommend the Canon AE-1 enough.

How Film Photography Can Make You A Better Portrait Photographer

How Film Photography Can Make You A Better Portrait Photographer

Portrait photography is one of my favorite genres within the craft. To meet someone and make a portrait of that person, or people, is special. While working for different newspapers, it was portraits that made up so many daily assignments. The goal was to photograph 

Ways to be Creative During the Summer

Ways to be Creative During the Summer

The creative journey is different for everyone. It can be a slow ascent, then a whiplash-fast descent and everything in-between, and then it can change again. And that’s okay, because it’s all part of that journey. Do not fret fellow creatives. There are ways to 

Photographing in a Snowstorm for Five Minutes

Photographing in a Snowstorm for Five Minutes

It was December 24, 2022. Our plan, by way of yearly tradition, was to travel north and visit family for the holidays. Nature’s plan, though, was to make the Michigan roads as undriveable as possible through a weather assault of wind, snow, cold and ice. It was the Christmas Eve blizzard.

I’m from Michigan, so snowstorms are always in the forecast no matter what month of the year it is. Drive through enough winters, like I have, and you too will begin to posses a set of skills centered around calm, supreme attentiveness and road lane visualization when there, seemingly, are no lanes.

When we heard the travel warning for this particular time, and the warnings have been known to overestimate things, we discussed it and decided to give the trip an effort.

Even on family trips, actually, especially on family trips, I bring a dedicated piece of camera gear for documentation purposes. With my 35mm rangefinder in tow, I’d be ready to photograph anything.

Grand Traverse County

As we exited our neighborhood and made our way north, it was apparent that the storm was indeed trying its best to cause dangerous travel conditions. Blinding snow was whipping it’s way at a high velocity from the west and ice had already established itself on the pavement.

“Is this smart?,” my partner Meg said. The answer was,”No.”

We decided to turn around at the next drive, which happened to be a service drive to a fruit orchard farm.

Not one to squander a photographic opportunity, I grabbed my camera and exited the vehicle to make some pictures. The full force of winter was seen, heard and felt as I made some steps to photograph some winter scenes.

One of my favorite reasons to photograph during winter is that when there are colors, the stark whiteness of winter really makes them pop.

There was a teal shed of some sort that I photographed first. Then, when I turned around, there was a school bus in the yard of a house across the road.

My total time photographing was about five minutes.

Grand Traverse County

The point of this post is this: Life has changes and circumstances that seem to be in a constant state of flux. By having a camera, and that includes cell phone cameras, and being receptive to photograph opportunities, you’ll find that you’ll have more chances to be creative and to simply create.

Grand Traverse County

As days become busier and busier and time becomes ever more valuable, I’m finding it more important than ever to carve out time and make chances to photograph and be creative.

The best way to do this, for me, has been to simply have a picture-taking device and to be open to photographing.

If you’re finding that you’re not taking as many pictures as you’d like, try to bring your camera with you everywhere. Be open to new photographic possibilities and maybe take a different route to and from work. You may discover new photographic opportunities and you may find that you’re inspired to create art.

Voyaging: A 2023 Springtime Photo Trip to Saginaw, Michigan

Voyaging: A 2023 Springtime Photo Trip to Saginaw, Michigan

Tell someone you’re going away for a weekend to Saginaw, Michigan to take photos, and you may receive puzzling expressions—I certainly did. The responses of wonderment I received were mostly from the people I encountered in Saginaw, too. Saginaw is often on lists, but they’re 

Photographing with the Canon 1DX and Why Megapixels Don’t Matter

Photographing with the Canon 1DX and Why Megapixels Don’t Matter

These days it’s almost impossible to be interested in photography and equipment and not end up down the rabbit hole that is the camera forum. Talk of DxO scores, sharpness, aberration and, of course, megapixels, dominate the subject matter. None of that matters. My first 

Tips for Photographing in the Midday Sun

Tips for Photographing in the Midday Sun

As photographers, we obviously would like to photography when the light is optimum. The golden hour, the blue hour, sunsets, sunrises—these are all times of day when the light can turn gorgeous and can result in exquisite images.

But, what do you do when the only time you’re able to photograph has harsh midday sun beaming down with unpleasant shadows?

It’s simple: You take pictures.

Indian River, Michigan

Don’t let less-than-desirable ambient light ruin what could be a fantastic and rewarding photo outing.

Recently, I had allotted a Saturday to make pictures. Early morning and late evening are wonderful time for photos, but I had a lot of time during the day and I wanted to maximize my time by heading to a small nearby town to “see what I see” as I like to say.

On this particular day, that town happened to be the home of the annual National Trout Festival—Kalkaska, Michigan.

The only dilemma was that the weather forecast called for sun all day. There was a time when I’d get into a funk and choose to simply not take pictures. “If I can’t have perfect light, what’s the point?”, I’d tell myself.

After having this internal conversation with myself many times, I told myself that it was time to overcome the obstacle of harsh light and to get creative with my camera.

You know what happened?

Photographing during midday sun can be great, and I found this out to be true. That’s what happened.

Kalkaska, Michigan

It did require some work to make my images pleasing. First, it’s important to pay attention to shadows. One of my favorite methods of photographing from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. or beyond is try to minimize the shadows as much as possible. I’ll try to find compositions that allow me to avoid shadows as much as possible. Another technique I’ll use is to photographing using film and to expose for the shadows. This leaves detail in the shadows and in the highlights as well, if it’s done correctly.

My camera was a rangefinder and my film speed was ISO 400. That’s a faster speed than I’d really prefer in full sunlight, but I’ve been using ISO 400 for everything so that I can become more accustomed to it, and that’s also the film I had in the camera at the time. I was forced to use a faster shutter speed than I’d prefer, but that’s no big deal.

Kalkaska, Michigan

Now, this can be done with digital as well. When I’m using digital equipment, I make sure to work the shadows in post processing so that they’re not so dark. One suggestion that makes this easier is to make sure you have a good exposure at the start.

Digital cameras are capable of a lot of latitude, but a proper exposure can really help during post processing, so try to nail this out in the field.

Speaking of shadows, another technique to use in midday sun is to photograph in shadows. Some of my favorite light is soft, diffused light on a cloudy day. Shadows can provide that same diffused light. I’ve photographed portraits of people during the middle of the day. What makes it possible is to find a spot in complete shade. By doing this, I know I’ll have a location that will have as even a lighting as possible on my subject’s face.

Kalkaska, Michigan

Finally, a good technique to use while photographing in situations with high-contrast light, is to try to make images with simple and clean backgrounds. I’ve found that trees can often exaggerate already-harsh-light conditions. By finding scenes that have as few distractions and extraneous elements as possible, you can make pleasing images.

There are many elements that go into making images. Light I said, excellent light is really important to making amazing pictures. But, don’t let bad lighting stop you from being creative.

Kalkaska, Michigan

The next time you see some harsh midday sun heading your way, don’t worry about it and simply go out and make images. You may be pleasantly surprised at the great results you achieve.

On Assignment for The Wall Street Journal: “How ‘eDNA’ Might Transform the Search for Missing Service Members”

On Assignment for The Wall Street Journal: “How ‘eDNA’ Might Transform the Search for Missing Service Members”

In the span of only a few days, I went from receiving a photo assignment from The Wall Street Journal, to feeling Lake Huron spray hit my face as we sped toward shipwreck Pewabic, trying to beat inclement weather. As a freelance photographer, when I’m