Shooting stock photos – 4th of July Parade in Ypsilanti

Had a great time taking photos at the Ypsilanti Fourth of July parade Wednesday, shooting photos both for stock photo sites and to share with the community. Some things I’m happy I did:

  • I got there half an hour before the parade started, tested out some shots, noticed things I wanted to include (such as the water tower) or avoid (flags with photos of Eastern Michigan University students that were on many lamp posts), checked my camera settings…
  • Took lots of photos! I love this parade because everyone is so friendly and happy to get their picture taken:
    DSC_9924
  • There’s also lots of space on this block so shots have cleaner backgrounds than in a busy shopping block (though there weren’t as many people in the audience as past years, everyone was protecting themselves in the shade), so you get nice contrasts in the shots without super busy backgrounds:
    DSC_0053.jpg
  • I could get close to the action to get some cool shots, such as this one of some of the original Rosie the Riveters, who are working to preserve the history of Willow Run airport where they built all those bombers during WWII:
    DSC_9947.jpg
  • I could also help promote organizations such as the library bookmobile, the local thrift shop, and the local National Society of Black Engineers Jr. chapter:
    DSC_0081
  • I posted my best photos of each group on my Susan Montgomery Photos Facebook page  to make them accessible to parade participants and spent much of the afternoon contacting them through their websites or Facebook pages so they could access the photos for free, as a courtesy. You can see the ones I submitted to Shutterstock this year and in 2014 here.

Next time I plan to:

  • Review the photos from past years and remember that I liked some that showed the top of the water tower in the background (See Shutterstock link) and try to get some shots with that background in addition to those above.
  • Move to an area where there are more visible audience members, as in this area many were in the shade protecting themselves from the heat, which took away from the energy of the parade participants.
  • Take more shots of some of the groups. In some cases I was not pleased with what I had but moved on too quickly to the next group instead of “traveling” with the group I wasn’t done with and getting another chance at solid photos.

In the meantime, best wishes in YOUR photography adventures.

Susan

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Shooting stock photos – Roller Derby again!

(A special note for the folks I know through the University of Michigan: I’m a photographer in my other life and realized a few months ago that LinkedIn rules state you can only have one LinkedIn page, so I had to merge my UM and photography pages, so expect some photo related entries when I update my photography blog…)

I got my camera fixed in time to attend another Ann Arbor Derby Dimes bout last Friday, those wonderfully supportive women who give me free passes to their bouts and a nifty Media Pass…  I got to try my new lens, a Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 that I’m proud to say I bought with my photography earnings. I got it at Camera Mall, a very nice relatively new camera shop in Ann Arbor. The folks there are super helpful and supportive. I also took along my “nifty fifty,” a Nikon 50 m f/1.8G that I got a few years ago then didn’t ever use as I got shy about street photography, sigh… But I’m learning to say “oh, well,” figure out the lesson to be learned and move on rather than linger on past mistakes, so, oh, well, at least I had it to use now.

The new lenses made such a difference!  At a larger aperture more light came in, so I could have a faster shutter speed, thus able to capture the action in much better focus, yey! Remember, the aperture is the fraction of the lens that is open, e.g. f/8 on a 50 mm lens means a 6.25 mm diameter opening, so the smaller the f-stop the larger the lens opening when you click the shutter, thus “larger aperture” means “smaller f-stop.”

I also brought my monopod, made me look a bit dorky but at my age I don’t really care much what people think of me anymore, and it added another level of steadiness so the photos came out sharper.

You can see the photos I submitted to them at the Derby Dimes facebook page.  Some of my favorites are:

DSC_9572

50 mm lens, ISO 800, 1/400 sec, f/2.0

DSC_9597

50 mm lens, ISO 800, 1/640 sec, f/2.2

DSC_9745

50 mm lens, ISO 1000, 1/1000 sec, f/1.8

DSC_9892

24-70 mm lens at 42 mm, ISO 1600, 1/500 sec, f/2.8

What I’m pleased about:

  • With the new lenses I had much more light coming in, could go with faster (shorter) shutter speeds, so captured the action better.
  • Taking the time to learn about the sport so I better understand what is going on. Still have much to learn, but I’m getting there, and it helps me anticipate and frame the shots better.
  • How wonderfully supportive the team is of everyone, of each other and of the other teams, and making me feel very welcome.
  • The opportunity to show strong women in action, and never sharing any photos that might embarrass anyone.
  • Including the refs in the photos, for a full shot of the action and to show appreciation for their work.
  • As for backgrounds I like the first photo because the back wall makes for a much nicer background compared to the trees.
  • I notice that 3 of my 4 favorite photos are with the “nifty fifty”, the 50 mm lens, which let much more light in than the 24-70 mm (f/1.8 vs f/2.8). Notice that the aperture it selected for the shutter speed I set is larger than I could have gotten with the 24-70 mm lens.
  • Having the 24-70 mm lens, however, allowed me to also get wider shots than I couldn’t have gotten with the 50 mm, sometimes the 50 mm was too constraining. Notice the last photo is at 42 mm, which allows me to include the refs.

Altogether a very fun evening of roller derby and photography, learning every day.

It really is about getting out there and trying things, messing up, learning from your mistakes, trying again. I got my first “real” DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera in 2004, shot mostly my kids activities and family trips for a short time, took an online photography class at the local community college in 2010, have taken Lynda.com photography and photoshop courses most summers, took two Great Courses video courses by Joel Sartore of National Geographic in 2014, started this blog in 2014…

Just keep chugging away, keep learning and trying, and next thing you know you’ll feel comfortable with aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc.

Best wishes on YOUR photography adventures!

Susan

Shooting stock photos – Columbus, OH 2017

Drove to Columbus, OH for my day job, and had fun shooting stock photos while I was out of town, here are some reflections on the trip…  What I did right:

  • Planned ahead by checking out popular locations and marking them on Googlemaps, which helped tremendously with planning – Once I was at one location I could quickly scan the map and find other nearby locations, so I could see those that were near each other and prepare my photo taking.
  • Looked up headquarters of companies that might be nearby, to get some idea of what was there.
  • Took my time getting there, so I could pull out as I desired, like a stop at Bowling Green State University. I’d often wanted to check out the campus:

Bowling Green State University Jerome Library

and having my camera on me at all times so when I’m moved to take a photo I can catch it before the opportunity disappears:

long sunny road

  • Went around Ohio Stadium to get a wide variety of shots:

  • Took my time downtown, and waiting for enough people to walk into the shot to make for a more interesting photograph:

Scioto Mile, in downtown Columbus, OH

  • Looked for those random opportunities that present themselves:

  • Enjoyed photography for its sake, not thinking only of stock photography
  • Let a little kid take a photograph with my camera, sharing the joy of photography with others.
  • Processed the photos fairly quickly, just finished just two weeks after the trip.

What I would do differently:

  • Print out a map with the popular locations, so I didn’t have to refer to the phone every time. I hadn’t realized that the saved locations don’t show when in directions mode…

You can see the photos Shutterstock accepted from Columbus here. Hope these reflections help you, and best wishes on YOUR photography adventures!

Susan

Impostor syndrome rears its head again…

In my day job I often do workshops on Impostor Syndrome, where you don’t think you are good enough, you’re a fraud, and you are going to be found out. I recently had something happen with my photography that I will be able to use as an example in future workshops, thought I’d share it as it might have happened to some of you as well.

So when I first started doing stock photos I had a relatively decent acceptance rate, maybe 75 %, with a number of photos getting denied because of quality issues – Out of focus, poor composition, etc.  And it took me FOREVER to get into iStockphoto, trying year after year until they finally let me in…. When I was catching up on those France photos recently I was submitting lots of photos at a time and I would invariably have sets of a dozen or more photos all get accepted. My first response?  “Wow, their standards must have gone down.”  Seriously, THAT was my response. Luckily I was familiar with Impostor Syndrome, so I could stop and tell myself “Wait!  Is there maybe another reason all your photos were accepted? Is there any chance you are actually a better photographer now?”  I had to laugh. Even knowing all about Impostor Syndrome to the point of doing workshops about it, I still fall for it…  Yes, I have to admit, I have worked hard at it, taken classes in person and online, many things that I would forget about now come naturally, I am indeed a better photographer now, thank you very much…

So lesson for all of us, yes, we always have more to learn and we must remain humble, but let’s take credit for the progress we are making to become better photographers every day and not be so hard on ourselves…

Best wishes on YOUR photography adventures,

Susan

Shooting stock photos – France 2016

Finally processed the photos I took on a trip to France last summer, yey…

I had a few days on my own first, where I visited Giverny and Monet’s house and garden, then had a bit more than a week with my boyfriend, mostly in Paris but also a day trip to Normandy and Omaha Beach area. I was very conscious that this was not a photography trip that he was coming along for, it was a couples trip that I happened to be taking advantage of to take some photographs.

Things I did right:

  • Balanced tourist time with photography time, so as not to burden him.
  • Took photos of every day scenes, like people walking on the streets, and pastry shops:Paris StreetPastries at the Bretteau Jean-Marie  Patisserie, Paris
  • Lined up a shot I wanted then waited for the right combination of people to come into it to make it more interesting:Musee D'Orsay, Paris
  • Took the time to get just the right shot – when my boyfriend was busy doing other things so I wasn’t making him wait forever. I spent over 10 minutes taking more than a dozen shots of this lovely musician while he shopped in the market:Organist entertaining at Marche Aligre, Paris
  • Tried for unusual shots of the Eiffel Tower, with tourists in it:Eiffel Tower, Paris
  • Patiently waited for the wind to be just right to get the cool shot of the weathervane at a train station while waiting for the train to return from Giverny. The weathervane never again lined up before the train arrived, good thing I caught it when I did:Weathervane in Vernon, France
  • Made a note of the names of the streets and tourist signs at photo locations to make it easier to write captions later.
  • Had fun trying to recreate some of Monet’s paintings:Monet garden, Giverny, France

Things I could have done better:

  • Many little technical details and probably missed many shots, but I really enjoyed the trip for itself, the photos were a side thing.
  • Again, process them sooner, it took me months to get back to them. I realized I was overwhelmed by the number of photos I had to get through. Once I realized that the only way to get through them was to… get through them, I was able to break the task up into little pieces: Select favorites, copy them from iPhoto and name them, break them up into little sets that didn’t seem too overwhelming to work on, clean them up on Photoshop, then caption and keyword them. Some days I was all for cleaning up, other days I was more interested in captioning and keywording, I played it by ear until they all got done.

Yesterday I finished the last batch, and submitted the last photos, ended up having over 100 photos approved, yey. You can see the photos that were accepted by Shutterstock here (last few aren’t up just yet, patience..)

Best wishes on YOUR photography adventures,

Susan

Shooting stock photos – Woman’s March in January 2017

Still catching up on old shooting adventures.  In January I participated in and took photos at the Women’s March in Ann Arbor, MI. I learned from past such occasions to get both long, medium and short range shots:

Women's March Ann Arbor 2017
Women's March Ann Arbor 2017
Women's March Ann Arbor 2017

I also have more confidence now to get in front with the other photographers and get close up shots of the speakers, such as our representative Debbie Dingell:

Women's March Ann Arbor 2017

So things I did right:

  • Took short, medium, and long range shots
  • Was more confident getting in there with the other photographers to get the close-ups and crowd shots.
  • Took notes as to who the speakers were for the less famous ones, saved me lots of time later on when adding captions to the photos.
  • I took photos of everyone who asked me to, I am getting much more comfortable interacting with people in that mode.

Mistake I made:

  • Took way too long to process them, should be better about processing them right away, where they can be more useful, and get more downloads…  I find I get such a kick out of taking the photos, but I have to be in just the right mood to process them, both clean up the photos themselves and putting in a caption, keywords, etc. I am mindful that for me this is a hobby and I want to have it stay fun. If this were my day job I would be a lot more diligent about this…

You can see all the photos that I sent to Shutterstock and got accepted here.

Best wishes on your photography adventures,

Susan

Writing an Artist Statement

I have written Artist Statements for a number of shows now, and I remember not knowing at first what to include in them, so for those of you who are new, here are some suggestions based on what I have done myself and from reading others’ artists statements at the shows I have been in.

Items to consider including:

  • Name, email, website
  • Brief bio, particularly about you as a photographer
  • A photograph of you, and/or a business card
  • Philosophy of what photography means to you, what inspires you
  • Information about the piece(s), any theme you might have, why it interested you.
  • Details on the camera you use (I don’t do this, but more techy folks do)
  • Thank you to the exhibit organizers
  • Some type of “hope you enjoy the piece” statement to the visitors.

One of my artists statements is included below:

artist statement