Wide Angle Wanderings

When Marcie Reif’s daughter was born, she intended to take up photography as a way to document her child’s early years. “I was a teacher and worked with kids all of the time, so taking pictures was a fun diversion,” she says. She figured she could earn extra money on the side taking photos of kids, but as she got better at it, her side venture started growing. A few years in, Marcie finally decided to quit her teaching job and started her business as a family, newborn, and lifestyle photographer based in Atlanta.

On the flip side, Marcie also became involved with Clickin Moms, an organization dedicated to female photographers at every skill level. “Taking pictures of my kids as a hobbyist, especially down by the beach, is what grabbed the attention of that group,” she says. “Every time we went down to the water, I’d rent new lenses or a different camera—always looking for something new to play with.”

Marcie and her family recently took a Disney cruise—right as other families are also starting to plan their winter vacations to warmer climes—and she brought the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC wide-angle lens with her on her trip. “It’s such a versatile lens for a vacation like this, where we’re carousing on the cruise ship and on the beach,” she says. “This lens lets me capture the kids as they’re playing or otherwise entertaining themselves, with a good portion of their environment in the background; after all, you want to remember where you went on vacation! I especially like this lens because it’s not intrusive, meaning my kids are generally more cooperative in terms of letting me take photos.”

The lens is also a stellar performer in a variety of lighting situations, which is crucial when you’re constantly on the go on vacation. “Of course I love shooting at the so-called golden hour, but that’s when you might be having dinner or your kids are tired after a long day in the sun,” Marcie says. “The 15-30 performs well even during midday and nighttime scenes. It’s liberating to not have to wait for a certain time of day to shoot, ensuring you don’t miss a single moment of your trip.”

Marcie also appreciates the lens for the creativity it allows her on the fly. “When you’re on vacation, you obviously want to capture the memories for your photo album, but I also find myself playing as if I were an artist,” she says. “I really like the 15-30 because it lets me experiment with light and colors so effectively.”

A prime example of the 15-30’s performance was a photo of Marcie’s son snorkeling in the clear waters of Castaway Cay, Disney’s privately owned island. “I knew the lens would be able to capture the sky, the water, and all of the colors beautifully,” she says. “It almost looks like it’s not real. I barely had to edit this image afterwards. The only thing I did was add some contrast and a bit to the blacks. I also removed some people from the photo to make it appear like we were there by ourselves.”

© Marcie Reif
15mm, F/2.8, 1/4000th sec., ISO 200
The 15-30 also allows Marcie to hang back when her kids are immersed in play. “It’s not always necessary to capture your subjects’ faces when you’re going for a candid vacation photo,” she explains. “My son was just playing with this shower in this photo. Kids can sometimes get caught up in what they’re doing, and rather than distract them so they’ll look up for your photo, just take the photo. That’s part of being on vacation with kids—you have to capture them when you can. This picture ended up being one of my favorites, with that water falling on his head, and the way the lens was able to capture the movement and light here without being overblown.” 

© Marcie Reif
30mm, F/3.5, 1/800th sec., 200 ISO
The same type of furtive capture happened back on the ship when Marcie spied her daughter looking out over the water. “I asked her to look at me, but she didn’t really want to,” she says. “I loved the way the wind was blowing her hair and the way the light was coming through it, though, so I took advantage of those elements instead. I also appreciate the lines and curves of the ship’s form. Whenever I could, I’d try to bring my kids up to that bar and shoot at different angles just for that reason.”

© Marcie Reif
15mm, F/3.2, 1/1600th sec., ISO 200
To show how the 15-30 can be wielded for portrait photos, Marcie asked her friend’s daughter for a picture as she showed off her red heart sunglasses. “I was close enough that I could have reached out and touched her—you can actually see my reflection in her sunglasses,” Marcie says. “I’m still able to get an attractive close-up, with my subject super-sharp and the background blurred out nicely, which prevents it from distracting from my smiley subject. You can still tell exactly where we are, though.”

© Marcie Reif
30mm, F/2.8, 1/2500th sec., ISO 250
A photo of Marcie’s daughter decked out in her Princess Jasmine outfit made for a similarly sweet shot. “I placed her in front of the ship’s porthole because I liked how the light was streaming in through it,” she explains. “I knew the clarity would be good, and she was just happy she got to pose holding her genie lamp, which is why she has such a natural smile. It was a win-win for both of us.”

<center<© Marcie Reif
30mm, F/2.8, 1/100th sec., ISO 1600

Marcie says the 15-30 is tailor-made for photos like the one she took of her kids and her friend’s two girls hanging out in the surf. “The very slight distortion on the wave that I get shooting at the widest end of the lens is what I’m drawn to,” she says. “It serves as a leading line of sorts. I also love the way the lens preserves the sky and how you see all of the color in the image from their bathing suits centered right in the middle. The only thing I would’ve changed about this image, if I’d had the time, is to keep the horizon from going through their heads. I usually try to keep an eye on that, by either crouching down or getting up higher, but I had to break that rule to quickly capture this moment.”

© Marcie Reif
15mm, F/2.8, 1/6400th sec., ISO 250 
The lens also allows Marcie to indulge that artistic side she loves. “I visualized the scene of my son dashing across the beach before he even did it,” she says. “He was running around, so I simply jumped in front of him and waited for him to run through my frame. I was drawn to the sand, the sky, the colors, the yellow in his bathing suit. Once again, the lens is perfect for this—the wide angle at the 15mm end distorts the image ever so slightly, just enough to take a photo that might seem kind of ordinary and make it look more creative.”

© Marcie Reif
15mm, F/4, 1/4000th sec., ISO 250
The 15-30 handled superbly when it came time for Marcie to document a Disney day’s-end favorite: nighttime fireworks. “Fireworks can be pretty hard to shoot, especially because they happen so quickly,” she says. “I always think of them as a big challenge. I really loved how this particular image came out, however, because you can see my son and tell he’s in awe of the show, even though (once again) you can’t see his full face. The light on their faces is a reflection of what they’re staring at in the sky. It was the perfect end to a great day.”

© Marcie Reif
30mm, F/2.8, 1/60th sec., ISO 2000 
To see more of Marcie Reif’s work, go to http://marciereif.com

Charley Voorhis photographs Washington state’s most scenic byway with his Tamron powerful lens lineup

If you’re looking for the “ultimate road trip,” head to the Pacific Northwest. That’s where the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway is located: a 440-mile route that starts just south of Seattle in a little town called Mukilteo, heading east along Highway 2 through the southern Cascade Mountains. “It’s an all-encompassing representation of Washington and what the state is known for,” says Charley Voorhis, a local photographer commissioned to help loop organizers document and promote the route. “It takes you through all kinds of landscapes and sceneries. It’s definitely doable in one epic day if you really pushed it, but it’s best traveled over four days and three nights to really experience each region.”

To capture the Cascade Loop for his client, Charley focuses on three main aspects: lodging, adventure, and sightseeing. “That’s the client’s agenda as to what they’d like to show, so that’s usually what I concentrate on photographically when I travel the loop,” he says. “But personally, I’m most attracted to the adventure and landscape side of things. There’s majestic beauty all along the route, and I make sure I’m up at 4 a.m. and shooting all the way through to sunset to capture all of it.”

For two recent trips along the loop, Charley tapped into his full Tamron lens arsenal, including the SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC Wide-Angle, the SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC G2, and the SP 150-600mm VC. “They’re all so sharp and versatile,” he says. “Being out in nature with these landscapes sprawled out in front of me, I usually always have the 150-600 readily available, because gorgeous things can happen in front of the camera; I need the reach so I can immediately zoom in on them. And the 15-30 has revolutionized my ability to think wide, because I can use it on a full-frame camera (my previous wide-angle lens was an APS-C lens). The 24-70, though, is the lens that lives on my camera as my go-to. All three lenses allow me to work a lot quicker, which is important when you’re working with light that’s changing quickly.”

Charley and his team have also put together a video for the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway called “Found,” using a combination of all of his Tamron lenses. “The idea arose that we should brand the content we do as ‘found on the Cascade Loop,'” he explains. “It’s a play on words, because ultimately you ‘find’ yourself when you head out on an epic road trip like this. That’s the tone I wanted to capture in this video—that we’re all soul-searching at any given time, and things happen in our lives that shape our feelings and our life trajectory. Shooting handheld video with these three lenses is terrific, because they’ve got the Vibration Compensation (VC) feature I never had previously. It allows me to take advantage of shooting in so many more situations now.”

Here, Charley talks about some of the images he captured on his trips around the loop.

© Charley Voorhis
15-30mm (15mm), F/5.6, 1/500th sec., ISO 100

One of the things you can do along the Cascade Loop is what’s called a canopy tour. You pay a company to harness you up, and the staff will guide you up an old-growth Douglas fir—it’s like 300 or 400 years old. 

I climbed alongside this character here, with my 15-30 snapped onto my camera, which was attached to my belt with a carabiner. Once I was up there, I was only a few feet from her, but I was still able to get a shot that wasn’t too close or intrusive. The Vibration Compensation (VC) really helped out in this case, because I was swinging around a bit while I was dangling up there. The stabilization helped me get a shot that was usable. 

© Charley Voorhis
150-600mm (150mm), F/6.3, 1/500th sec., ISO 100

The idea here was to capture people on the lake canoeing and having a good time. Luckily, these were characters of ours, so we weren’t voyeuristically photographing random people. I was able to shout out across the water and tell them what direction I wanted them to go in and come up with different compositions along the way. I was about 50 yards away from them (about half the length of a football field). The hardest part was getting them to smile. I had to keep yelling, “You’re having fun!”

One of the cool things about this lake is it has glacial sediment along the bottom. When everything is just right, the lake turns this milky green color. To help bring out that milkiness, I positioned myself so the sun was more behind them and up to the left. If it had been directly in front of them, the glare may have become an issue.

© Charley Voorhis
15-30mm (15mm), F/6.3, 1/400th sec., ISO 100

Along the upper Skagit River lies Diablo Dam, which powers much of Seattle. It’s built along the granite walls of Diablo Canyon. The builders wanted to build a spectacle for the locals to visit that would connect them to the outdoors, so they tried to preserve as much of the natural landscape in the dam as possible. Instead of just creating a huge concrete monstrosity, they made it look more like a nature-esque waterfall. It gives it this otherworldly look, especially when you can stand right up on top of it and peer over the side. 

Capturing this rainbow was simply good luck. What I teach my students is to have a reliable camera and lens and always be ready and opportunistic about things that present themselves. You can’t always plan on a particular element or guarantee a sunrise or sunset is going to be beautiful. But when something is beautiful, you want to be sure you’re ready for it. 

© Charley Voorhis
15-30mm (15mm), F/10, 1/100th sec., ISO 100

The woman in this photo is Annette Pitts, the executive director of the Cascade Loop. Her job is to live on the loop, basically. She travels around it four or five times a month, connecting with all of the members of the loop along the way. The idea was that we’d take some pictures of her shooting, since she’s learning more about photography right now. We wanted an in-the-field portrait of her; this is a photo she now uses on brochures and other forms of marketing collateral, since photography is a big draw for people to travel the Cascade Loop. 

We went out right before sunrise and hiked to the top of that mountain. Then, as the sun was coming up, I strategically positioned myself in that spot so the sun would be on the other side of the frame from her right as it was cresting. By closing down my f-stop somewhat, I was also able to capture it as a sunburst. I did have to shift side-to-side 5 or 6 feet to make sure the sun was positioned right where it is, for a sense of symmetry and balance. As you start shooting more, you start paying attention to how elements like that line up—and you remember that you have the power to physically move to achieve the photo you want. People forget that sometimes and keep their feet frozen in place. 

© Charley Voorhis
24-70mm (32mm), F/2.8, 1/320th sec., ISO 400

My hope for this photo was to show an ending of sorts for our Cascade Loop story—that even after the day is done, there’s still much fun and joy to be had. It was the perfect time for my subjects to unwind and enjoy a gorgeous sunset over the ocean.

It took a lot of effort to preserve the sky in the background and have the bright fire in the foreground, all with my subjects still illuminated. My strategy was to expose for the sky and then extrapolate from there. Realize in a case like this that on your LCD screen, the foreground is always going to look a bit darker than what you’d like it to. You can always bring up the shadows a little and reveal more of that information later in post-processing. 

© Charley Voorhis 
15-30mm (17mm), F/2.8, 20 sec., ISO 2500

At one point along the North Cascades Highway, you’ll catch a glimpse of one of the most iconic rock formations in the area: the Liberty Bell. It’s a popular climbing spot when the weather is agreeable, but for photographers, it makes for a stunning subject all year round. It was going to be a little out of our way to photograph it, since we’d have to go in the middle of the night, but the workshop students I had on this trip excitedly volunteered to go on this impromptu shoot. 

The night was crystal clear—perfect to teach them night techniques. None of the people on this particular tour had ever photographed stars before, so it was really an eye-opening experience for all of them. We set the composition up for the students from the side of the road, with the hope they’d be able to capture the Milky Way and witness how the camera can see a whole dimension of light you can’t see with the naked eye. We had them all use tripods, then I went around to make sure everyone knew how to turn on their timers (not everyone had a remote shutter). This way, the picture would be taken 2 seconds after they pressed the button. I explained that otherwise, even touching the camera for just that brief moment would cause camera shake and motion blur in their shots.

They all were stoked when they saw the results of what their cameras were able to do. Basically everyone who was there got at least one successful photo. There was one lady who approached me at breakfast the next morning and said, “That’s been on my bucket list forever; I can’t believe I actually got to go do that.” It’s really cool to be able to share that with newer photographers.

© Charley Voorhis
15-30mm (15mm), F/2.8, 20 sec., ISO 2500

This was the last shot of the night. We fired up the bus, everyone got out, and then we just photographed the bus, empty, under all of the stars. My idea was we could use that photo to promote more of our night workshops, letting people know that we have this bus we can load up, drive to an amazing place, and take these types of star shots. 

I’m not sure exactly what kind of bulbs are in the bus, but for whatever reason, the lights just went to that reddish-hot pink color in the photo. It was a happy accident, because the naked eye certainly didn’t see it that way. The naked eye couldn’t even see the mountains or sky behind the bus, because the lights overwhelmed our vision in the middle of the darkness like that. It’s a bit of an experimental shot, but I think it really works.

To see more of Charley Voorhis’ work, go to www.voortexproductions.com

Tips for Making a Great Holiday Card

It’s no secret that for most of us, the holiday season is the one and only time we mail out personalized greeting to friends and family members each year. And since we only do this once – we say ‘do it right’ and take the time to create the nicest, most meaningful greeting that you can send. 

Use these tips and suggestions for a killer holiday card:

  • Invest in having a professional photography taken of your family, kids, or pets. Trust us, you’ll appreciate having that image in 10 years.
  • If you’re sending cards on a budget, plan a time to get a great shot with your mobile phone camera. Add a subtle overall filter or lighting enhancement to give everyone a fresh look. If that fails, a well done selfie can work.
  • Splurge a little on the card style. Try a uniquely shaped die-cut card, folded card design or upgrade to press printed card stock. Your card is sure t stand out with and of these options.
  • Order an extra 6-12 cards for the unexpected. You never know who you’ll receive cards from and it’s always a nice gesture to return the hello with a card of your own. 

Locally Crafted and Printed At Bergen County Camera

Our creative team follows your order from the moment it arrives at our location. We don’t outsource this process and take care in producing the finest results. Each and every order is quality checked before it reaches your hands.

Choose from a wide variety of exceptionally designed greeting cards with themes that are easily customized with your favorite photo(s) and sentiments. Need some design expertise? We’re happy to co-create with you!

We’re offering 25% off all greeting card orders until November 26th, so don’t delay!

You can start your design here.

Dominic Cox Documents New York City with his Arsenal of Tamron Lenses

Dominic Cox grew up in the heart of New York City, with two parents who were artists and a penchant for people-watching. “I grew up with some of the best scenes in the world before my eyes,” he says. “I couldn’t draw or paint like my parents, but I soon realized that the camera allowed me to record what I observed. I’m still interested in documenting so many different things: city streets, the people in them, the beach and ocean, cars, boats, planes. I just keep my camera ready and wait for what unfolds.”

When it comes to portraits of people on the street, Dominic strives for authenticity. “There was once a photographer who said that all photographers are voyeurs,” he says. “I don’t know if that’s an absolute truth, but I do know I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that yes, I’m definitely a voyeur—but not in a creepy way. I don’t like to take photos of people who are posed and perfect, but I do try for pictures you wouldn’t be ashamed to see yourself in if I showed you. I’m trying to show something honest.” 

When he’s out roaming the streets, Dominic brings his Tamron SP 70-200mm VC, SP 15-30mm VC, SP 150-600mm VC, SP 35mm F/1.8 prime and SP 85mm F/1.8. “I love the versatility I can achieve with these lenses in my bag,” he says. “The 15-30 is one of my favorites recently, and I’ve barely scratched the surface with it. And I appreciate the fact that Tamron is adding image stabilization across their line, especially since most of what I shoot is handheld using available light. I have to shoot this way. Not only is it difficult to carry a tripod around (many places won’t let you in with one), but I like to be able to have spontaneous movement, cut angles, get low. I don’t want another piece of equipment I have to drag along with me, because it would just slow me down.”

Dominic tries to balance his subjects and their environment, with his subjects taking center stage. “I have my favorite range of apertures and a distance I naturally shoot from,” he explains. “If I’m shooting on a city street, I’m not necessarily trying to blur everything out so you don’t know the person’s in an urban environment. For instance, high-end fashion photographers might take a picture of a model in an amazing gown in a back alley somewhere in the Meatpacking District, and they’ll shoot wide open and get close so they can blur out all the trash and other distracting elements, which I can appreciate in those circumstances. However, when I shoot, I want to show the background, as well as make the subject and the foreground stand out. I never tire of looking at a photo with an urban backdrop. For that reason, F/2.8 is one of my favorite apertures to use. It borders on documentary, because I’m documenting a specific place and a specific time.”

Dominic usually doesn’t know beforehand where he’s going to end up—or what photos he’s going to end up with. “I’m somewhat of a nomadic wanderer, though I will stay in a particular area for a while, just to observe and let things happen,” he says. “I want people to fall into my frame, for someone to show up pure and unaware. I want to capture the essence of the person without having them pose, and that 70-200 lens especially helps me stay unobtrusive so I can do that.”

Whether he concentrates on color or black-and-white photos is something Dominic tries to decide before he heads out. “I like to mix my work up,” he says. “Even on my Instagram, I’ll post three color photos, then alternate those with three black-and-white photos. I like black and white because it focuses your attention on expressions and textures more, on the light and shadows, whereas with color, it’s how we see things every day. I almost feel like you have to up your photography game to show the emotion you see in black-and-white photos in a color image, because you’ve got the color existing as an added distraction if you don’t shoot it right.” 

Dominic finds himself on his photo walks at almost any time of the day. “Of course I appreciate the so-called golden hour in the mornings and late afternoon/early evenings,” he says. “But in the morning I’m usually out for a ride on my bike or doing some other form of physical activity (it’s when I’m the most motivated), and in the early evening, I’m a homebody who likes to have dinner and watch a movie with my wife. So I do find myself out and about in the midafternoon in the harsh sunlight, and I actually enjoy it. I like the challenge of working with different apertures and shutter speeds to get the desired results, of trying to create an appealing photo in demanding conditions. Anyone can take a photo when the ideal lighting is present. But try doing it when the clouds are going back and forth in between the buildings, when the light is constantly changing. That’s when you feel like you’re creating magic.”

Dominic talks about eight images he recently took in his hometown with his arsenal of Tamron lenses:

© Dominic Cox
30mm – f/3.2 – 1/320 – ISO 800

I saw this scene first at the ground level. This is a bar on the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan, right on the Hudson. I walked up from the riverside and saw the people milling about and thought it exemplified just hanging out in the city. I didn’t want to take the picture straight on, though, so I went up to the top of the building and shot down instead with my 15-30. I thought it was a more interesting vantage point, and it also offered a bit of anonymity as well. I liked the contrast of the lines of the metal gate leading down into the pattern of the hexagons below. 

© Dominic Cox
200mm – f/2.8 – 1/500 – ISO 100

This was a vendor in an outdoor flea market, and as soon as I saw him I thought, “Wow, I’ve got to photograph this guy.” He looked like a model you’d see in a Gap or Old Navy ad, with that tattoo under his clavicle reading, “Sometimes I imagine being free.” I also loved all of the different elements that complemented the photo, including the retro items he was selling. By placing the words “Brooklyn” into the top of the frame, I was also able to establish a place for the photo. I used the 70-200 for this, zooming all the way in to 200mm to capture this candid moment.

© Dominic Cox
200mm – f/3.2 – 1/1600 – ISO 100

I grew up in Washington Square Park, where this photo was taken, and it holds many fond memories for me. I would spend nights in this park, and I recently took a trip back to New York for the purpose of retracing a lot of my footsteps. This guy was a typical New Yorker, sporting a look I’ve seen many times in my own life—he’s wearing those signature boots, for example, which an old friend of mine who was a punk rocker used to wear back in the day. I identify with the look. Plus, the dog reminded me of Toto from the Wizard of Oz. In terms of the fountain, I wanted to add that in to make the image a little more dynamic, but without taking away from my subject. I blurred it out just enough so that the dog owner was still clearly the focus of the photo.

© Dominic Cox
30mm – f/2.8 – 1/800 – ISO 3200

I love black-and-white photography, but sometimes a photo just calls out for color. This night scene of a food stand in New York City was taken on 42nd Street with the Tamron 15-30 as I was heading west from the East Side. Now, I don’t usually eat the type of food you find at food stands like this, because I tend to eat healthier fare, but I wanted to take this photo because it’s the type of fast food that many New Yorkers live off of, even well into the night. I even called this photo “Farm Fresh,” as a tongue-in-cheek reference to what clearly isn’t farm-fresh food. I loved the color of the signs on the stands and the lighting. It wasn’t hard to expose for, since there was enough ambient light. I didn’t want it to be completely exposed anyway—I like the fact that there’s some shadow in the photo. I really wanted the focus to be on the light that was over him, where the steam was rising up over his cooking. Shooting it at 1/800th of a second at F/2.8 did the trick.

© Dominic Cox
200mm – f/2.8 – 1/500 – ISO 640

This photo was taken in Times Square, where I was visiting after more than a year’s absence. I was there for hours with my camera, just waiting for photo opportunities to pop up. I was across the street, under a scaffold trying to stay dry, when I noticed this couple with their baby. You can’t see the dad, who’s behind one of the planters. But the real focus was on the mother and child. The beauty and intimacy of the moment just struck me, especially since the child was the one holding the umbrella while the mother knelt down next to the stroller in the rain. It was a warm, comforting scene. 

© Dominic Cox
200mm – f/5.0 – 1/200 – ISO 100

This photo was taken out of photographer’s envy. It was taken on Fifth Avenue, right near Tiffany and Co., an extremely ritzy area of Manhattan. The woman was a model on location, being fussed over by a team of people. I was across the street with the 70-200mm lens and I was able to steal that shot as the photographers commissioned to take her picture were at work doing the same. It would be a dream for me to have that kind of opportunity in the near future, with a model all styled with hair and makeup, and a team taking care of all the other logistics so I could just concentrate on composition.

© Dominic Cox
180mm – f/2.8 – 1/400 – ISO 100

This woman is a vendor at an outdoor flea market, selling straw bowls, and she was sitting down during a break and taking a call. She happened to look up as I was taking the picture with the 70-200, but it’s not like I asked her to pose, so it still looks natural and authentic. Everything about this scene made for a great color photo, from her flawless, incredible skin to the colorful headwrap she had on to the tapestry of the bag she was carrying. The fact that you can see part of “New York” on the bag also gives a sense of place, like I discussed earlier. Although she was my subject, I wanted the bowls in the image also, so I placed them subtly in the foreground.

© Dominic Cox
35mm – f/1.8 – 1/500 – ISO 100

Louis Mendes is probably one of the most photographed photographers in the world, and a centerpiece of the New York City landscape. I was returning a lens on Ninth Avenue last year, and he was out there taking pictures; he frequently stands in that location and takes people’s portraits for a fee. I spotted him, and he looked so interesting and distinguished, from the way he was dressed to his classic 1940s camera. I walked up to him and started a conversation with him and it led to this portrait with the 35mm. 

To see more of Dominic Cox’s photos, check out his Instagram @PhotographyIsTheMuse.

Upcoming Photography Classes – November

Here are Bergen County Camera’s upcoming classes for this November:

Tickets may be purchased online, or in store.  

Lightroom 1 – November 8th – $50 – Learn the basics of Lightroom and get started creating a workflow. This course will cover organizing and importing in the Library module as well as keywords and collections.

Basic Digital Photography – November 14th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky and Paul Carretta for a 2 hour introduction to Digital Photography. This class is designed to provide the basics of digital photography regardless of the type of digital camera you are shooting or even if you are looking to buy your first. Topics to be covered include basic camera operation, batteries, storage media, card readers, choosing a resolution, compression, limitations and advantages of digital photography, making prints & enlargements, and storing & archiving images. Of course there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the presentation.

Intermediate Digital Photography – November 15th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky and Paul Carretta for a 2 hour continuation of Basic Digital Photography. This class is designed to provide the next step in your digital photography learning. Topics to be covered include exposure (f-stops, shutter speeds, ISO), using shutter speeds to control motion, using f-stops to control depth of field, and ISO to control sensor sensitivity. We’ll talk about composition, tripods, monopods, self timers, keeping your images safe and more. Suggested Pre-requisite: Basic Digital Photography. Of course there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the presentation. Course handouts include test your knowledge assignments, basic class reminders, special offers, computer tips and helpful programs.

Basic Photoshop – November 28th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky for a two-hour class introducing Adobe Photoshop. This course is for first time and beginner Photoshop & Element users and will cover computer & program requirements, acquiring images, image formats, storage considerations and a basic overview of the capabilities of Photoshop. Examples include opening images, rotating, preparing images for email, preparing images for printing, image adjustments (brightness, contrast & color), fixing crooked images & scans and printing multiple images on a single sheet of paper. Although this class is presented on a PC, all information will carry over to the Mac.

Eventbrite - Bergen County Camera Classes 2017

Upcoming Photography Classes – October

Here are Bergen County Camera’s upcoming classes for this October:

Tickets may be purchased online, or in store.  
Basic Photoshop – October 2nd – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky for a two-hour class introducing Adobe Photoshop. This course is for first time and beginner Photoshop & Element users and will cover computer & program requirements, acquiring images, image formats, storage considerations and a basic overview of the capabilities of Photoshop. Examples include opening images, rotating, preparing images for email, preparing images for printing, image adjustments (brightness, contrast & color), fixing crooked images & scans and printing multiple images on a single sheet of paper. Although this class is presented on a PC, all information will carry over to the Mac. 
Lightroom 1 – October 17th – $50 – Learn the basics of Lightroom and get started creating a workflow. This course will cover organizing and importing in the Library module as well as keywords and collections.
Basic Digital Photography – October 24th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky and Paul Carretta for a 2 hour introduction to Digital Photography. This class is designed to provide the basics of digital photography regardless of the type of digital camera you are shooting or even if you are looking to buy your first. Topics to be covered include basic camera operation, batteries, storage media, card readers, choosing a resolution, compression, limitations and advantages of digital photography, making prints & enlargements, and storing & archiving images. Of course there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the presentation.
Intermediate Digital Photography – October 25th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky and Paul Carretta for a 2 hour continuation of Basic Digital Photography. This class is designed to provide the next step in your digital photography learning. Topics to be covered include exposure (f-stops, shutter speeds, ISO), using shutter speeds to control motion, using f-stops to control depth of field, and ISO to control sensor sensitivity. We’ll talk about composition, tripods, monopods, self timers, keeping your images safe and more. Suggested Pre-requisite: Basic Digital Photography. Of course there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the presentation. Course handouts include test your knowledge assignments, basic class reminders, special offers, computer tips and helpful programs.


Eventbrite - Bergen County Camera Classes 2017

Fall Foliage: Tips and State Foliage Websites

Foliage Photography: Tips for Great Pictures

Foliage Maps:

The Foliage Network Maps – website with frequent updates and color maps of the northeastern United States.


A polarizing filter is really the only “must have” filter to bring along for great digital fall foliage pictures. A polarizer creates dramatic fall foliage pictures by darkening the sky, increasing contrast and deepening colors and removing the sheen from the leaves. Most other filter effects such as enhancing reds and oranges, sepia and graduated effects can be easily created in Photoshop. Your standard protective UV filter should be removed before putting your polarizer on – never stack filters. Also, don’t forget to remove your polarizer when you move back inside, as it reduces light by one to two f-stops. Shop Polarizers in our online store.

Click to see image with and without a polarizer.

A second type of filter is an enhancing filter which does just what the name implies – enhances. This filter is especially effective with the bright primary colors of autumn (reds, oranges and browns). A third filter is a Color / Neutral Graduated filter which utilizes a color (or gray) that gradually diminishes from dark to light across the filter. These filters are often used to deepen the sky or to balance the exposure between foreground and background, which helps you keep the sky blue rather than washed out.


  • Nothing takes away from foliage more than a bright white overcast sky. In these situations, try to reduce the amount of sky in your images or use a Neutral Graduated filter.
  • Dramatic storm clouds of autumn thunderstorms interspersed with blue sky make a stunning backdrop for the brilliant colors of fall, especially when the vivid colors are brought out with a polarizer filter.
  • Use a tripod for the sharpest possible image. This will allow an ISO of 100 or 200. Remember to use a remote release or self timer to prevent motion when pressing the shutter.
  • Colors are warmer and can be more dramatic closer to sunrise and sunset. The hour before and after sunrise and sunset are considered by many to be the “magic hours” where you get an amazing quality of light.
  • Experiment, take lots of pictures and above all have fun!
  • Since you are shooting more with your digital camera, be sure to edit out some images before showing off your work to family and friends
Once you’ve assembled your camera and a few filters, all you’ll need is foliage at the peak of color. We’ve assembled a list of state hotlines below to help schedule your trip. Need some ideas for places to shoot, be sure to visit Bergen County Camera’s Where to Take Great Pictures page. Have some suggestions of your own? Please send us an email or comment on this post.

Fall foliage Websites and Hotlines

The Foliage Network – website with frequent updates and color maps of the northeastern United States.

State by State foliage websites – click on your state of interest below.

New Jersey 
mid to late October 
 Late September - mid October 
Early September - mid October
New Hampshire 
Late September - mid October
New York
Late September - late October
Early October
Early September - Late October
September - Late November
Late October
Late September - Late October
Rhode Island 
Late September - mid October 

Remember to visit Bergen County Camera for filters, tripods, lenses, cameras and prints.

Photographing National Parks After Dark with Ken Hubbard

Ken Hubbard, an avid Tamron shooter, shares some of his tips for photographing the night sky in our National Parks.

Pack wide-angle lenses.
This is a no-brainer, since you want to get as much of that jaw-dropping night sky as possible in your photos. The lenses I typically use: the Tamron SP 24-70mm VC G2, the SP 15-30mm VC, and the SP 35mm F/1.8 VC. That prime lens is especially useful because of its fast F/1.8 aperture—it’s desirable to use fast apertures for night sky photos, as you want to reduce the amount of time your shutter is open to reduce star movement. With a 1.8 lens, I can shoot a 10-second exposure instead of 20 or 30 seconds.

There’s a magic number for any focal length you may be using and how long your shutter can stay open before you start getting those streaks in the stars. Although there are some complicated equations, let’s keep it simple. A basic guideline to get you started is the 500 rule: Divide the focal length you’re shooting at into 500; that resulting number will give you the number of seconds your shutter can stay open before you start seeing star movement. So if I’m shooting at 15mm, I can keep my shutter open for roughly 33 seconds. If you see movement in your stars, shorten your exposure.

Determine the optimal time to head out.
Our group tries to venture out during the blue hour, an hour or two after sunset, when there’s still some ambient light to create that beautiful indigo color. You can see an example of that in one of my Sedona photos shown here, where the featured rock formation was also lit up by the quarter-moon that had already risen.

© Ken Hubbard

If you’re going to try for a money shot like the Milky Way, you’ll want to check apps like Sky Guide or PhotoPills to see where and when it will be rising. You don’t want to head out somewhere with a group of people and discover there’s no Milky Way overhead. Capturing it when the skies are darkest—typically between midnight and 2 a.m., depending on the time of year— is ideal. Between April and September provide your best looks: During other parts of the year, the Milky Way either never makes it above the horizon, or it’s too close to sunrise or sunset and will be completely washed out. You’ll barely see it, if at all.

© Ken Hubbard

Research the park you’re going to.
I often start this process months ahead of time, so I’ll know the best times of year to visit, depending on what I’m planning on taking pictures of. Our group will also head out at least a day before a workshop, so we can scout the landscape to make sure it’s everything we were anticipating. You also want to get the lay of the land during the day so when it’s dark you’re not stumbling around with no sense of place.

It also helps to know which parks are rife with light pollution and which aren’t. You can check the International Dark-Sky Association website to see which communities have pledged to preserve the night sky by keeping lighting to a minimum. As far as the national park areas I’ve visited, Sedona is a designated dark-sky community; Zion isn’t too bad, either, and Acadia in Maine is pretty dark, as there aren’t too many towns around throwing off a lot of light. If you do have a park that’s lit up from afar, you can use that light to your advantage (or at least mask it) by using some creative techniques. More on that a little later!

Bring the basics …
A couple of things you’ll definitely need: a tripod, as you’re going to be taking very long exposures (20 or 30 seconds long in some cases). And you’ll want to bring a shutter release cable or some sort of shutter remote. You don’t want to be hand-firing the camera and risk losing images that way.

… and also a flashlight.
One, to see where you’re going, and second for light painting. That’s a terrific way to accentuate your images, like I did in my photo of Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park. One tip I have for this type of creative endeavor: Don’t simply throw the light from behind your camera—your subject will tend to look flat. Because I’m usually taking 20- or 30-second-long exposures in these cases, what I’ll do is hit the shutter release, then walk to one side or the other of my camera and throw the light in from an angle, so it adds a little more dimension with shadows and highlights.

© Ken Hubbard

Sometimes other photographers’ light-painting adventures can work their way into your own photos. This image I took of one of the arches in Arches National Park was a happy accident. I was about 20 seconds into a 25-second exposure when someone who was sitting underneath the arch decided to blast it with light. I didn’t know it was going to happen, but it turned out to be a cool picture anyway.

© Ken Hubbard 

Before you start flashing lights everywhere, know the rules of the park you’re visiting.
Workshop leaders need permits no matter what to host groups in most national parks. The group that ran this year’s night sky workshops for us was National Park Trips Media, which took care of all of the logistics.

Some parks outright prohibit the light painting I mentioned earlier, especially from large groups. I can understand that: It can be annoying to individual photographers or nature-gazers in a park, trying to check out the night sky, only to have a bunch of people show up all at once and start blasting light everywhere. Individually, you often can light paint without a hassle, though check with your destination park before you go, as each has its own rules.

Seek out elements in your landscape to enhance your composition. 
Here’s where landscape photography during the day and at night doesn’t differ too much, because you always want some kind of landscape elements to create compelling visuals. That could entail some sort of silhouetted area or foreground visual—either a manmade one, like a building, or a natural one, like a rock formation. 

More often than not, I’ll try to keep those foreground elements in the lower third of the frame, as I’m using them mainly to enhance the night sky I’m trying to show off. And since I’m typically using a wide-angle lens in my night photography, I get up real close to whatever I’ve decided my subjects will be, as those elements will appear very small in a wide-angle photo otherwise. 

Tap into the leading lines of the landscape. 
I use natural lines to draw the viewer’s eye to where I want it to go. For instance, in my Milky Way photo taken in Zion, I positioned myself so the Milky Way descends straight down into the rock formation with the tree sticking out of it. 

© Ken Hubbard

I’ll also use the shape and structure of the landscape to either enhance the photo or mask issues that might be threatening to distract from what I’m trying to show. For instance, in my other photo here from Zion, I used the lights of the town of Springdale in the distance to silhouette the trees in that gap. And in my image of Balanced Rock taken in Arches National Park, the horizon was really lit up from Moab. To work around that, I stood in a spot so that when I took the photo, the Milky Way streamed down toward the horizon—making it appear as if the Milky Way was lighting up the horizon, not the neighboring city.

You can find more of Ken’s work here.

Solar Eclipse – August 21st

The next total solar eclipse will occur on August 21st 2017. The path of totality is scheduled to be seen from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Those who are located outside of this path of totality will be able to see portions of the eclipse, in a partial eclipse, with the moon covering a section of the sun’s disk. 

Path of totality, courtesy of NASA

Though New Jersey is not within the zone of totality, we are still located within the zone for a partial eclipse. At the height of the eclipse here, we should see the sun covered approximately 73%. The best time to look out for the eclipse in New Jersey is going to be around 2:45 pm. 

Regardless of a partial eclipse or not, it is extremely important to use eye protection when viewing the eclipse. Looking at the sun at anytime can damage your eyes, especially during an eclipse. Special glasses are produced for the solar eclipse, and should be ISO certified to ensure your safety when viewing this special sight. The only time it is safe to view the sun without glasses is at totality, when the moon completely covers the sun’s disk (this will not occur in New Jersey).


Some Tips to Help Photograph the Solar Eclipse

  • Use a telephoto/zoom lens and a tele-converter
  • Never look at the sun through your camera’s lens without proper eye protection
  • Use a solar filter for safe viewing at all times UNLESS the eclipse is at totality
  • You want a focal length under 2000mm on a full frame camera, or 1300mm on a crop sensor (this is to ensure you get the entire sun within your shot)
  • Get a sturdy tripod, and manually focus the camera to infinity
  • Practice, take a ‘test’ shot on a day before the eclipse, shoot various shutter speeds with a fixed aperture (between f/8 and f/16), and look for optimal exposures
  • Show what the solar eclipse does to the environment, find shadows, natural pinholes, and try some wide angle shots

More tips can be found online, like on Nikon’s website here

Where to Photograph Fireworks – Locations and Tips 2017

North Jersey’s parade, fireworks and celebration map

List of North Jersey fireworks, times and dates

Here are some basic starting points

Please let us know if you get some great shots we’d love to see!
Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions. Have a great 4th of July Holiday weekend from all of us at BCC.

Find a fireworks display on NJ.com‘s 4th of July celebrations page.

  • Use a tripod
  • Electronic release, 2 second self timer to eliminate shake or by carefully pressing the shutter button to minimize shake.
  • Manually set your camera ISO to 100 (You do not want Auto ISO)
  • Lens Choice – Wide Angle Zoom to frame what you’d like to capture
  • Auto White Balance or Daylight
  • Set your lens to manual focus then focus to infinity (take a test image and make sure things are sharp) Don’t forget to switch back to auto focus when done shooting
  • Method 1 – Set your camera to Manual exposure – Try 5 seconds at f/8 – 16 – this will allow you to capture several bursts
  • Method 2 – Try setting you camera to the “B” setting in manual – keep the shutter depressed at f/ 8 – 16 for several bursts
  • Carefully release the shutter if not using a release to capture from one to several bursts

**Evaluate your exposure – Shorter exposures (or smaller apertures ) will darken the image and capture shorter trails, Longer exposures (or larger apertures ) will lighten the image and capture longer trails.** If necessary make adjustments and take some more shots

If you are using a point a shoot, check your camera’s manual to see if you have a fireworks mode.

Improving Fireworks photos

Shoot with a tripod – it will give a more natural cascade of light.

Shooting the Finale!

The finale is many times brighter than rest of the show. Be ready to choose a shorter exposure or smaller aperture to prevent overexposure. The exposure you need is dependent on the number of simultaneous bursts. In some really incredible finales you may find yourself shooting at 1/4 or 1/8th of a second. Experiment for best results.

Why use a tripod?

Hand-held image above shows motion from camera shake in the burst of light.

The image below is steadied by a tripod, 5 seconds, f/16 at 100 ISO

Other Techniques

Set your camera to B and lock open your shutter – keep the lens covered with a dark hat and remove the hat to capture a burst then recover and repeat to capture several bursts. Just be careful not to bump your camera.
You can even zoom the lens during exposure for some interesting effects

Experiment and best of all have fun.

Happy Independence Day!