Alan’s Guide to Shooting Fireworks

How to Shoot Fireworks

  1. Use the bulb setting available in manual (M), see tip 17 for the finale’!
  2. Use a low ISO 100-200
  3. No long exposure noise reduction, high ISO NR can stay on, but it’s not needed
  4. F8-F11
  5. Use auto white balance
  6. No mirror lock up
  7. Use infinity focus, switch to manual focus, tape the lens focus ring @ infinity. Some lenses are not marked. Test focus in manual at farthest subject your lens can resolve sharply.
  8. O D lighting or auto lighting optimizer, these control contrast and brightness.
  9. Vivid color mode, leave saturation at normal, landscape (picture style) for Canon uses.
  10. IS-VR off, since you will be on a tripod.
  11. Metering: use matrix or evaluative
  12. Note: you will not have to meter anything for shooting (F11, ISO 100, bulb = done)
  13. Tripod, short zoom lens 18-70mm, 24-70mm, 18-105mm and a cable release (no need to lock)
  14. Tripod will possibly need to be repositioned (tilted etc) once the show starts. I’ll shoot vertical more often than horizontal.
  15. Vary zoom length for composition
  16. Fire the shutter (with a cable release) hold rather than lock. Hold for multiple bursts 2-8 or maybe more. Check the monitor, exposures should average 2-4 or 4-7 seconds, and can even be as long as 8-15 seconds. Disregard the histogram.
  17. Finale’ shots need to happen quickly in manual mode, burst or continuous 1 second, ½ second, ¼ second, 1/8 second, 1/10 second, 1/25 second, 1/30 second. These shorts can be blown out if taken for longer time periods (such as with bulb). Still maintain the F number 8-11.
  18. JPEGS or Raw? Raw is not necessary unless you feel a need to recover highlights. Shoot JPEG or raw together, or JPEG alone. Use a fast card for recovery of write speed times. Raw will offer a bit more color information too.
  19. Bring extra cards, batteries, and a mini flashlight. The show may be 30 minutes to an hour long. Be careful about inserting memory cards in the dark.
  20. Add an element of scenic interest in your picture. Bridges, skylines, crowds, etc

An Eye on Architecture (Story by Tamron)

 Derek Rath captures the form and function of Southern California landmarks with the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC Wide-Angle lens

Story Contributed by Tamron

When he was growing up as a boy in England, Derek Rath learned the ins and out of three-dimensional drawing from his father, a civil engineer. “He was in charge of housing and streets and all kinds of related things, and he showed me how to work up 3D plans,” Derek says. “It fascinated me even back then.”

Derek eventually made his way to the US to produce a music album, and he soon settled down in Southern California, which he has called home for more than three decades. It’s proven the ideal locale for a person who has since parlayed his childhood interest in the lines and forms of civil engineering into a career as one of the region’s top architectural photographers. “Southern California is such an interesting place for architecture, because you can find 20 different styles along just one block,” he says. “Builders aren’t afraid to do things here and take chances.”

For architectural photographers, a wide-angle lens that allows for work in tight spaces is a must. Derek recently started shooting with the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC Wide-Angle lens, and he’s been impressed with the results. “First, I can handhold at shutter speeds I never thought possible,” he says. “And of course I appreciate the extra reach on the 15mm end that allows me to capture photos in spaces I wasn’t able to before. Plus, its sharpness is stellar. On many wide-angle lenses, the sharpness tends to drop off in the corners, but that’s not a problem with this lens.”

Derek’s approach when he’s capturing local architecture involves putting the building or structure in context with its surroundings, depending on what he’s been commissioned to turn in. “That comes down to finding an angle, something that illustrates a strength of concept of the design,” he explains. “Other times, I may be looking at textures or how a particular aspect of the building works in relation to the rest of it, or how the entire building works in context with its environment. It very often doesn’t unfold until you’re actually looking at the scene in front of you. And I like to shoot in natural light, or use available light that’s been incorporated into the design of the building.”

One thing Derek does when on a shoot with a client: Bring his laptop. “If they see my images right out of the camera, they may get upset because they’re not seeing what they expect to see,” he says. “And that initial photo is not what I’m going to give them in the end. Ansel Adams is very famous for his prints, not his negatives—he made his magic in the darkroom by pulling all the information out of the negative. Digital is the same for me. I take the photo, then finagle the information, then present the final result to my clients.” 

A recent test-drive with the 15-30 allowed Derek to try it out on some of his favorite LA haunts. For a photo inside one of the city’s most prominent government buildings, Derek was faced with less-than-ideal lighting. “It was almost dungeon dark, as this was fairly early in the morning,” he says. “I was on the third floor of the rotunda, the most elaborately designed of all of the floors. It’s a wonderful period piece of architecture. My goal was to focus on the filigree of the light and show how the light fell so beautifully down onto the Los Angeles plaque below.” 

© Derek Rath
15mm, F/9, 0.4 sec., ISO 640
Derek had previously surveyed this same scene through an iPhone, compact camera, and using a different wide-angle lens, but it wasn’t until he used

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Photographing Wildlife in the Sunshine State (Story by Tamron)

Photographing Wildlife in the Sunshine State

Story Contributed by Tamron

Carolyn Hutchins’ very first camera was a hand-me-down Canon AE-1 from her parents, which she used in high school to learn the basics of photography. It wasn’t until 10 years or so after she’d graduated, however, that she started taking her picture-making more seriously. “I’m really into hiking, so I started packing my camera when I went on my nature walks,” she says. “Then I began volunteering with the Osceola County Camera Club, where I met and interacted with a bunch of experienced photographers. Surrounding myself with people who were much better photographers than I was, and being able to learn from them, was a great help in advancing my own skills.”

Today, Carolyn explores nature and wildlife, camera in hand, both near her home in central Florida and when she visits family in West Virginia. Her proximity to Florida’s Space Coast (where she photographs the launches she includes in her “Flying Machines” portfolio) and her job at Orlando’s Gatorland offer her an abundance of convenient photographic opportunities. 

Carolyn taps into two Tamron lenses for her wildlife work: the SP 35mm F/1.8 VC and the 18-400mm VC, which she recently acquired. “The 35 prime is what I use mostly for landscapes and when I need as much light as I can get, which the F/1.8 maximum aperture helps immensely with,” she says. “I also love how sharp that lens is.” 

As for the 18-400, Carolyn mainly appreciates the versatility of its focal-length range. “When you’re around captive wildlife, you don’t want to freak the animals out by putting a noisy camera right in their faces,” she explains. “And when you’re in the wild, you don’t want to jeopardize either the animals’ safety or your own. The 18-400 allows me to keep a comfortable distance from my subjects.” 

The Vibration Compensation feature on both lenses helps ensure sharp images, as Carolyn rarely brings along a tripod unless she’s doing landscape photos. “I tend to especially use the VC when I have the zoom pretty far out, like at 300mm or 350mm, because I’m terrible at balancing,” she says. “It helps me keep camera shake out of the picture so I get the sharpest photos possible.”

Gatorland has proven to be especially fertile photography ground for Carolyn, and she often brings her camera to work to see what creatures she can capture. “It’s important to have patience when staking out my subjects,” she says. “I have to approach them very slowly, or else I’ll scare them. I once sat in the same spot for almost half an hour watching one particular dragonfly.”

Her technique is often to simply act distracted. “If an animal sees you walking straight up to it, most of the time it won’t hang around,” she says. “But if you walk really slowly, maybe focusing on something else or looking at the ground by your feet like you dropped something, it will make you look less intimidating, and it will be less likely the animal will scurry away.” 

Carolyn’s approach to her wildlife photos: “I like to create images that make people think,” she says. “Images should tell a story. Often, that means showing the animal or bird actually doing something, whether that’s hunting, preening, feeding, building a nest, or even interacting with other wildlife.”

© Carolyn Hutchins
18-400mm at 250mm, F/6.3, 1/1600th sec., ISO 200
Carolyn often heads out to a wetlands preserve about an hour from her home to see what birds she can place in front of her lens. It’s there that she photographed this great blue heron while taking an early morning stroll near a popular feeding spot. “Like I mentioned earlier about the slow approach, that’s what usually works when you’re dealing with birds like these,” she says. “Many times, they’ll pick at their food first, so if you approach cautiously, you can get pretty close to them.”

© Carolyn Hutchins 
18-400mm at 65mm, F/7.1, 1/1600th sec., ISO 100
Many of her photo ventures take place at the Avian Reconditioning Center in Apopka, a rehabilitation and falconry venue for birds of prey. For her photo of a red-tailed hawk taken at the center, Carolyn sat low to the ground behind the bird’s trainer to get the photo of the bird landing. “This hawk is injured and was being trained by a falconer to return to flight,” she says. “You can see the falconer’s glove stretched out and waiting. It took a few practice shots with the tracking so I could keep everything focused just right.”

© Carolyn Hutchins
18-400mm at 350mm, F/6.3, 1/640th sec., ISO 200
The gators, of course, are some of Carolyn’s main photographic draws at Gatorland, and one of the first photos she took with her 18-400 was of an alligator emerging from the water right outside her office. “I had only had the lens for about a week and had taken it to work with me for some practice,” she says. “Early one morning, I spotted this gator. I was able to zoom in to 350mm and fill the frame, getting really tight on its eyes.”

© Carolyn Hutchins
18-400mm at 300mm, F/6.3, 1/1000th sec., ISO 200
For Luther, a 14-foot-long American crocodile that’s the resident “alpha male,” Carolyn had more of a heads-up on when to capture him. “The American croc is an endangered species in Florida,” she explains. “We’re lucky to have two of them at Gatorland. Luther sits in this same place outside of my office almost every afternoon, like clockwork, usually with a female or two. On this particular day he was in the water sitting just right so I could capture his reflection.”

Each year, staff members at Gatorland collect alligator eggs scattered around the property, letting them incubate until they hatch in August and September. “The keepers are really amazing—they watch these eggs and keep them at the right temperature until they’re ready to break open,” she says. “Then, once they hatch, we put them in their own pens so they’re protected and won’t be picked off in the wild by birds. Eventually they’re old enough to go out and hang out by the big lake on their own.”

© Carolyn Hutchins
35mm, F/1.8, 1/640th sec., ISO 800
On the day Carolyn photographed this particular hatchling peering out from inside its half-broken shell, she happened to have her camera at work and was hanging out with some of the zookeepers. “This turned out to be my absolute favorite of all the baby photos I captured,” she says. “They hatch very quickly: In the very next frame, this baby’s entire head was out of the shell. One of the reasons I switched to the 35mm lens for this photo was that I didn’t want to shine a big light down on this newborn. With the 35mm, I was able to dial back all the way to the maximum F/1.8 aperture to let more light in.”

© Carolyn Hutchins
18-400mm at 122mm, F/7.1, 1/1250th sec., ISO 200
With captive wildlife, Carolyn often prefers to zoom in tight to help eliminate background distractions such as buildings, fences, and parked cars, which can change the feel of the final image. “Be prepared to move around and approach each situation independently so you can figure out which elements to get rid of,” she says. Eliminating such distractions was necessary for Carolyn in her picture of one of the rehab center’s great horned owls, though these particular distractions were located on the owl itself.

“Besides zooming in tight, I also converted the photo, which I shot in RAW, to a high-key black-and-white image in Photoshop,” she says. “I feel like that helped enhance its features and also to camouflage the glove it’s sitting on and the ID band around its feet, which you can see if you look closely. Plus, by converting to black and white, I could best capture the contrast of its stripes and patterns, as well as accent the owl’s eyes more—they’re so beautiful and piercing. That’s why I prefer to shoot in RAW, as it allows for more control like this in post-production.”

Seeking out a clean background that showcases the animal’s natural environment also helps eliminate pesky distractions. “Birds look great with the sky behind them, while alligators look great in swamps,” Carolyn explains. “I like having a natural-looking background, so I tend to stay away from anything that would have straight lines or bright colors, like fences or barriers. I basically try to get low and get the sky in the background, or get high and shoot down. That usually eliminates much of the extraneous.”

© Carolyn Hutchins
18-400mm at 80mm, F/7.1, 1/1000th sec., ISO 160
The sharpness and detail offered by the 18-400 is a big part of what’s made Carolyn a fan of this lens. It was on full display in her photo of this crested caracara, one of her favorite birds at the rehab center. “They look so prehistoric,” she says. “This bird I photographed has the biggest personality—it loves to play with its trainer’s cellphone whenever it hears the phone’s noises. One of the things I was trying to show here were the details in its feathers and face. When birds have very colorful feathers or eye-catching patterns, it’s awesome to focus in on all of those different visual elements.”

© Carolyn Hutchins
18-400mm at 145mm, F/5.6, 1/200th sec., ISO 400
That same detail was also clear in her photo of a Florida panther, down to each tiny hair follicle. “We have two main big-cat species in Florida: bobcats and Florida panthers, which are an extremely endangered species,” Carolyn explains. “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimate there are only about 200 left living in the wild.” 

Carolyn snapped a photo of this panther, one of two resident panthers at Gatorland, through a solid plane of plexiglass. “That can make reflections really tough to get around,” she says, though she managed to do so in this case. “Many times the panthers will lounge on the deck, but I didn’t want the deck in the background, so I caught the panther on the ground here, which looked more natural to me.”

For those interested in trying their own hand at wildlife photography, Carolyn offers one main piece of advice. “Keep shooting, and check out all of the locales around you for possibilities,” she says. “I visit a lot of parks, forests, and conservation areas. And I strongly believe in visiting the same places more than once, at different times of the day and year, and in different weather conditions. Be respectful, and pay particular attention to things like migration patterns, nesting areas, and feeding locations to get a grasp on your subjects’ habits. Plus, don’t forget to talk to people. Forest and park rangers can be extremely helpful in giving you tips about the local wildlife that will enhance your photography.”

To see more of Carolyn Hutchins’ work, check out her website


How’d You Get that Shot? (Story by Tamron)

How’d You Get that Shot?

Story Contributed by Tamron


Image by Daniel Schenkelberg

10mm, F/8, 1/500th sec., ISO 1000, with a Canon 70D

I took this photo at Nitro Circus, an “action sports collective” in Bakersfield, California. It’s one of the biggest action-sports events in the country, featuring BMXers, freestyle motocross stars, skaters, even scooter athletes—all the top guys out there to show the crowd their best, most daring tricks. I was invited out there by my buddy James Foster, whom I started racing cars with a couple of years ago. James is a professional BMX rider and recently won a gold medal at the X Games. 

Because I have a media pass, I get free reign, more or less, on where I want to stand. I had originally set my camera up on a tripod to photograph the BMX jump, which is a smaller jump that you can’t see in this photo here. As the day started coming to a close, that’s when they brought in the motocross jumpers—and I had to quickly adjust to capture this shot.

I knew I wanted the composition to be super wide to capture the full crowd with the stadium lights backlighting the rider, so went as wide as I could go, to 10mm, using the new Tamron 10-24mm Di II VC lens. I hoped to show how huge that in-air trick was—my goal was that the final image would make the viewer feel like he or she was part of the crowd. That unreal sunset, which I got lucky with, simply put the photo over the top. 

When they wrapped up the BMX jumps and brought on the motocross performers, I literally had no time to adjust the settings I’d had programmed for the BMX jumps. I simply grabbed my tripod and moved it up to the other jump as quickly as I could. I had just enough time to make sure the image was composed the way I wanted it. My aperture was set to F/8, and my shutter speed at 1/500th of a second. I set it on auto ISO because with the clouds and changing light during the day, I needed the auto ISO to compensate a bit. I knew those settings would work to freeze the action; I just hoped it would be in focus.

Speaking of focus, locking it down was another challenge. I use manual focus and then lock the focus ring down with tape so it doesn’t move. However, when the object I’m trying to focus on is going to be extremely high in the air, it’s hard to pick a focal length that will lock down the focus exactly how I want it to be. Even when I lock it in at infinity, it doesn’t always come out the way I hope. What I do in a case like this is pull the camera back and guesstimate: I’ll point it at something else, like a ramp or a light or something high up in the air, in the same general vicinity where I think my subject will end up when he jumps. Then I’ll lock the focus there and tape it before putting the camera back on the tripod and composing the image.

I triggered this shot remotely. I was about 150 feet to the left of the remote camera, shooting into the sunset. [Check out the video here to see a short snippet of how Daniel triggered his remote camera.] Now typically, if I were shooting through the camera myself, I’d wait until the motocross rider was in the air before I’d trigger the camera. But for a shot like this, where I’m using a remote Pocket Wizard, I trigger it to shoot right before the rider hits the jump. If I wait until he’s in the air like I usually do, he’d already be gone.

In post-production, I dodge and burn a lot, and I pulled out the shadows to bring the rider up, but that’s pretty much it. I didn’t have to go too crazy during the editing process, because everything just came together so perfectly. I was extremely pleased with how sharp this image came out using the Tamron 10-24. 

To see more of Daniel Schenkelberg’s work, check out his websiteFacebook, and Instagram

The Pretty Side of Cycling (Story by Tamron)

Hernan Rodriguez uses the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC G2 & SP 70-200mm f/2.8 VC G2 lenses to capture the finest sides of a professional female cycling champion, making it more than just about the bike.

Story Contributed by Tamron

Here is a brief glimpse into Scotti’s life, which will help set the stage to her personal timeline, shared in these captured images.

Meet Scotti Lechuga: Professional cyclist, wife, mother of two beautiful 6 year old twin boys, fitness coach and coffee addict. She is one of the few mothers in the sport of professional women’s cycling.

Working as a Los Angeles based commercial portrait photographer my work spans from personal commissions to celebrity and editorial assignments. When I was selected to photograph Scotti, it was not merely for my style and artistic vision but also because I shared a deep passion for cycling, stemming from the many years racing in the elite category. “I believe you will understand where I am coming from”, shared Scotti, and that is what essentially sealed the deal. 

Setting the Stage

Since Scotti lives in Arkansas, all the preliminary planning and concepts were discussed over the phone and through emails. Scotti was very direct on some specific shots she wanted to capture from the session. “The rest I leave to your artistic and creative interpretation”, she added. As usual, I created “mood-boards” which displayed the wardrobe, lighting style, studio backgrounds and environmental locations for each shot. This is collaboration between photographer and subject, so I had Scotti email me 15 inspirational pictures she admired. This step also helps ensure the photographer is on the same page as the client. Once Scotti reviewed and approved the boards, we both had a solid idea of what direction we wanted to go with the photo shoot. I also explained to Scotti that these were for reference and inspiration. Many times during a shoot, you might find something that works better, or head in a totally new direction. 

One thing that was certain though, was that we were going to shoot many changes and looks. A classic vintage look, two sophisticated fashion looks, a hybrid shot of cyclist meets fashion, two looks that revealed Scotti’s inner person, and of course, two looks with Scotti and bike. She also arrived with two beautiful carbon fiber bike frames granted by her professional sponsor. This one I thought we would have fun with and make it more of a conceptual shot. She agreed. 

Tamron 24-70
For the most part, I used the Tamron SP 24-70mm VC, for the versatility of its zoom range, which allowed me to cover the various shots we had planned. All except for the tight sophisticated beauty shot, in which I used the Tamron 90mm. I usually will use the Tamron 70-200 for the majority of my fashion work, but since I was shooting full length and ¾ shots combined with a bike and frames, I thought the 24-70 would be a better fit. This lens alone would also cover that 45mm – 50mm range, which is great for full-length fashion and environmental portraits. I also had just received the new lens two days prior, so I was very excited to see the new added features and upgrades. I was shooting many setups with both strobes and continuous lighting, so the lens would have to perform well through the varying f/stops. The fast f/2.8 would also assure the option of creating beautiful creamy backgrounds, and keeping the focus on Scotti. 

One thing I find concerning or rather important when shooting fashion and portraits with continuous lighting, is finding the best camera setting combination allowing me to create clean sharp images. You are bumping up the ISO, dragging the shutter speed to very slow speeds, or opting to use a tripod, which sometimes can disrupt the flow of the photo shoot. This mid-size powerhouse lens performed way beyond my expectations. It allowed me to keep the ISO to a minimum of 100, while relying rather on the Vibration Compensation feature to compensate for the low light. I found myself easily dragging the shutter speed 4 stops, while going hand-held to 1/15th of a second on Scotti’s Vintage setup, which was shot with one “hot-light”. 

Tamron was the first in the market to have a vibration compensation option for a 24-70mm lens, and this “next generation” G2 has just gotten better. With the quick focus, even under low-lighting conditions, I was able to work freely with Scotti, covering a range of poses as we moved and talked throughout her session. This allowed me to capture honest and less contrived expressions. It is a practice I use which can be helpful to both portrait and fashion photographers. 

It Takes A Team

Leading up to the shoot, I usually start by building up my core team, which is integral to the success of the photo shoot. They consist of makeup artist, hairdresser, wardrobe specialist and a personal assistant. This assistant will sometimes work on specific needs I might have and will also delegate certain instructions to the rest of the assistants when they may be needed. Certain tasks might involve shopping, catering, music, grip, and more.

Prepping For The Shoot

Once we agreed on the storyboards, the next step was preparing the stage for the various setups. This is not any different to when I shoot my celebrity portraits. This preparation is extremely important as it helps keep a constant flow throughout the day, and it also leaves less room for error. During this process, I will usually test my equipment along with my lighting gear and make sure everything is working and up to par. As far as lenses go, from my years of experience, I will usually know which lenses I will be using. In this case, since we were shooting in that mid-range focal length, I was very certain the Tamron 24-70 would be all I’d need for the session. I also buy new batteries for all of my triggers, and I pre-cut any Rosco filters for the shots that will be customized for the use of color. I make sure all of my digital media cards are formatted and ready to shoot. If I am shooting tethered, I pretest to make sure all communication channels are working. One last thing I do the day before the shoot is to create a “Call Time” sheet which specifies everyone’s contact information, location of shoot, everyone’s arrival time and lunch break. This can be a time saver and a lifesaver as well. 

Step 1: The first step I take is to breakdown the storyboards into groups that will have the same type of lighting style. Here I can also determine further if it will be grouped with flash or continuous lighting setup. I usually will pre-test the day before and I also will have an accompanying notepad with settings, including ISO, exposure and color filter selection noted along with custom white balance notes. I might also keep a custom white balance CF card for each setup, which allows me to keep consistent color from set to set. 

Step 2: Here I determine the background selections for each setup and the accompanying wardrobe, whether casual or upscale. I usually will use a wide range of solid colored seamless paper from Savage Universal. In my opinion it keeps the focus on the subject and maintains a sense of timelessness. I will also use one setup for a classic portrait appeal, using a custom painted canvas by This background will usually be set back far enough from the subject, and shot with a shallow depth of field. I usually will shoot this at f/3.2. I also have a setup for black and white, which will have a higher lighting ratio to create more contrast and pop.

Step 3: In my opinion, this is the most important point to note. Make the client as comfortable as possible. Not only physically comfortable in the studio, but just as important is gaining the trust of your subject. Usually everyone’s a little apprehensive about that initial shot. This was Scotti’s first professional photo shoot, so we dialogued a lot and I made sure she was not feeling rigid throughout her shoot. The dialogue helps the subject get out of their headspace, where they might tend to overthink things. This will translate to very rigid posing. The tendency is for the subject to usually go to the “cliché” hand on the hip pose. I will tend to pose less and let the subject fall into their natural body language expression. I just then slightly refine the pose by repositioning hands and feet, or head tilt. As you will see in the example images of Scotti, her expressions are natural and her poses are fluid.

A Pro On And Off The Bike 

We covered multiple wardrobe changes for Scotti, so I will share some of the standout images of the session, and the specifics of the shot.

Tech Notes: In all of the setups where flash was required, I used a Dynalite Kit, which consisted of 3 power packs. 1 RP1600, 1 MP800, and 1 MP400, in combination with the RoadMax Series Heads and the SR3200 Ring Flash. 2 Portable Baja’s were used on location. 

Setup 1. Was our “Ice-breaker” Shot. I wanted to have Scotti be as natural and comfortable as possible. For wardrobe we selected something a bit understated as to let her expressions dominate the portrait. I had Scotti wear a free flowing white tank top and black fitted athletic pants. This allowed her to show some of her fitness as well as her personality. Her low cut boots gave the outfit a fashionable appeal. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 50mm, f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

We began in a white studio cove and lit the background with 4 flash heads. Two bare bulb flash heads were placed one on top of the other and bounced off of a V-Flat on each side, for an even spread of light. All four lights metered f/11 on the background. This was 1 EV above the key light. The key light was a large Westcott Zeppelin Parabolic without diffusion. This light metered f/8. For fill, I used two flash heads placed in a reflective umbrella directly behind me on each side. This was a combined exposure of f/7.1.

The Tamron 24-70mm allowed me to capture a series of shots that varied in focal length. Most often I use the Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8, but by using a shorter focal length, I was able to stay closer in proximity to Scotti, which allowed us to interact more intimately. It’s great when you also need to direct the subject through a variety of poses. I was also able to quickly shift between full-length shots, to ¾ horizontals for an asymmetrical look, which gave us the option of using it as a website banner.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 70-200mm, 11mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

Setup 2. The second shot was a variation of the first setup. By placing a black V-Flat directly behind Scotti, I was able to quickly switch to a more classic sophisticated look. The lighting setup was kept exactly the same. I had Scotti change into a cobalt blue blouse, which really made her eyes stand out. I wanted this series of images to display her confidence and strength while still showing her femininity. Nothing changed in relation to lighting and exposure. This made for a quick transition with a completely new look for Scotti.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 63mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

Setup 3. The next shot was also setup to have an easy transition, with a slight lighting variation and background change. A quick setup of a Savage Gray seamless paper on stands was placed behind Scotti. The key light was kept the same with the Westcott Zeppelin Parabolic. We kept the same distance and power to maintain consistent lighting at f/8. I also wanted to create an overall open fill, so instead of using the two umbrellas for fill, I used a 72”x72” Westcott Scrim Jim in its place. I simply just placed two Dynalite flash heads set far enough behind the scrim, to create my fill using the full size of the scrim. This light quality was smooth, similar as to a large bay window. It also gave me just enough detail and separation from a black bike against a gray background. Since this setup was to be shot full-length with Scotti’s bike, we needed to make sure we had plenty of space around the scene, as to create a clean image that could be used for advertising or editorial purposes. Most photographers make the mistake of viewing the shot through the lens, and crop in too tight. This limits the image from being used for multiple purposes. You also have to make certain the transition of light onto the subject and background are smooth and consistent.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 50mm, f/6.3, 1/125, ISO 125

The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 was the best lens option for creating this series of shots. I was able to choose my angle of view, and varied my focal length from 45mm-70mm range for these particular shots. Since the bike was positioned behind Scotti, I also wanted to secure an accurate perspective. I also captured tighter shots by simply walking closer to Scotti, while maintaining my focal length at 70mm. This series of images were some of my favorite shots of Scotti. It presented her as she truly is – A female professional cyclist with a great sense of fashion.

Variation – Since the background and lighting style of this setup covered many looks we had storyboarded, I simply had Scotti jump into two more changes to keep the flow of our day fluid. The wardrobe, posing and expressions are what varied for these shots.

I had Scotti change into a fun expressive outfit to show off some of her funk and “cool” side. Most people might think female cyclists don’t have a life outside of their bikes, or just don’t have a good sense of fashion, but Scotti was the complete opposite. She was fun, possessed a great sense of fashion and was very assertive in her choices. I wanted to show some of that in this next series. I directed Anthony, my makeup artist, to create a bolder look by adding more depth to her eyes, and a bold red lip color. Her hair was also pulled back into a stylish knot. For wardrobe, Scotti changed into jeans with a black sports top, and layered on top was a white mesh athletic jacket that completed the look. I took a series of ten quick shots, which completed this wardrobe change.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 44mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

The Tamron 24-70 rendered amazing accuracy on the representation of skin tones. To any portrait, beauty and fashion photographer, that is the number one objective. Making sure the color balance is accurate, and the dynamic range in the skin carries enough latitude. I was very impressed. I am sure you can find a lot of literature on these specs for the 24-70, but in my testing, I am sharing this through these portraits. 

Setup 4. The next shot was to capture Scotti the “mother.” Not much change here again. Since this shot was Scotti and her twin boys, all I needed to do was to pull back the large parabolic to allow more spread of light onto three subjects. I also increased the power on my Dynalite pack to compensate for the loss of light. I took a final meter reading to f/11 for light consistency. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 48mm, f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

My Tamron 24-70mm was quick to focus and also gave me the ability to adjust my focal length constantly. I turned off the VC feature for most of my studio shots, since the flash was enough to keep images sharp and my shutter speed also was high enough to keep tack sharp images. 

NOTE: When shooting under mixed lighting conditions, continuous lighting and natural light, I will keep the Vibration Compensation on. Though I will be using flash, I also keep my shutter speed very low to allow ambient exposure. The speeds might vary from 1/15th of a second to 1/60th, depending on the effect and lighting conditions.

I directed Scotti to just have fun with the boys. “Let them hug you, hold onto you, kiss you” I instructed her. I didn’t want anything posed or contrived, so by the constant movement and interaction with her boys, it gave us a great variety of portraits and kept it fluid and organic. By pausing and directing my subjects to pose might have stopped a natural moment from occurring. As a photographer you need to discern when to pose your subjects and when to allow them to just be expressive.

This was really fun for all of us!

Setup 5. Now we step into our fashion segment with Scotti. From our storyboards, we had determined three specific fashion looks. One a vintage change, another a sophisticated look and lastly was a bolder look incorporating color and contrast. 

Vintage. Scotti brought a classic off-white vintage dress, which I thought was perfect for creating a 1940’s style portrait. Hard light, deep shadows with high contrast. To replicate this period, we started with another hair and makeup change. The stylist created a period hairstyle with tight waves of hair pinned closely together. This also framed her face nicely. The makeup contoured her cheeks and a deep rose lip color was used instead of red. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 48mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

With the varying lighting scenarios we had set to shoot, I needed a lens that would help control camera shake, especial when shooting under lower-light conditions. The Tamron 24-70mm Vibration Compensation (VC) technology, which allows photographers to shoot as many as five shutter speeds slower than usual when shooting hand-held, allowed me to confidently capture every shot under constantly changing lighting conditions, even with low ambient and continuous lighting. 

I started with the same Savage gray seamless paper, which kept the focus on Scotti and also worked well for black and white conversions. To create that classic Hollywood style portrait, we decided to use just one “hot-light”, just like they did in the Ol’ Days. I really never use these lights as they tend to get extremely hot and are a bit cumbersome, but there was one sitting around the studio, and I thought I’d give it a shot. Because of the extreme heat, we shot this setup in just five minutes. I clipped on a set of barn doors to direct the light. 

While Scotti was in makeup, I turned on the light, did a quick white balance with a SpyderCHECKR gray card, and uploaded it as a custom white balance. The Kelvin for the light was 3200.

Now this is where the Tamron 24-70mm VC is extremely beneficial. With the newly dedicated MPU (micro-processing unit) solely for Vibration Compensation, you have the flexibility of using much slower shutter speeds with the stabilization performance level of 5 stops. 

Due to the heat emitted from the light and to make our subject confortable, we varied the distance of the light to the subject, which also varied our exposure settings. For minimal noise I kept the ISO set at 100, and relied more on the VC feature to compensate for the slow shutter speed. We shot this series in the 1/15th – 1/50th of a second range at f/3.2. The slow shutter speed also allowed me to create a lot of detail in the fabric shadows by picking up some of the weak ambient light for fill. 

Bold Fashion. In our storyboards, I had diagramed a lighting setup with a very specific look we were hoping to create. When I mention, “hoping”, it’s because we had not tested. Most often with my lighting experience, and my familiarity with my equipment and modifiers, I usually am close to the mark. Sometimes it only takes small adjustments, or maybe it’s a starting point for something even more fantastic. Without my sketchpad though, it is very difficult to just arrive at these types of shots.

The inspiration I took from a 1940’s fashion image, which had a high-contrast lighting style. I decided I would light this with a hard and directional light source. For my key light I used a bare Dynalite flash head with a sheet of Rosco Opal diffusion paper to minimize some of the brightness and hard light edge. After a proper white balance, I also added a Rosco Calcolor 15 Cyan filter to create a cool mood. The light was positioned from the side and relatively high up for a more dramatic effect. For the background, I used two more Dynalite flash heads with 36” black and white umbrellas, bounced onto the same Savage gray seamless paper. To create a more graphic image, we added a Rosco Calcolor 60 blue filter on each light. This along with the bolder makeup added on Scotti created our take of a 1940’s vintage fashion look.

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 53mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

Fast and Accurate. Under these low-light studio conditions, the Tamron 24-70mm excelled in capturing focus even after focal length readjustments. This was very apparent in our bold fashion shot, where we were only able to focus with weak modeling light in a dark studio setting. This is in part due to the embedded DSP (digital signal processing) blocks that enable high-speed digital signal processing. We were able to achieve quick responsiveness from the camera’s AF selection point to the lens.

Class and Sophistication. This is how I can describe the last look in this series. Scotti stepped out of wardrobe in a black elegant sheer blouse. Nothing overstated but none-the-less, with a timeless appeal. Her hair was pulled back, which gave notice to the added jewelry Scotti displayed, and a touch of blue eye shadow was added to pronounce her beautiful blue eyes. To add to the timeless appeal, I thought it appropriate to shoot on a white background, and allow the light falloff to add the right amount of depth. I decided to shoot with a Savage Translum white paper roll, which is not 100 percent opaque, but it’s rather more of a velum translucent paper, allowing me to place a flash head behind the paper roll. This created an extra kick of light on the background but not obvious as if I were to use a spotlight directly in front of the background. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 70-200mm, 111mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

The lighting was very tight and precise without much movement allowance for my subject. We spent four hours on setup to construct specific lighting characteristics from this look. I wanted to create a lighting style between a classic portrait and the specular quality you might see in fashion photography. I specifically wanted the light focused on the front plane of her face and graduating darker above her forehead. I also did not want an obvious spotlight effect either. 

One thing I found impressive about the Tamron 24-70mm was the flare and ghosting control it offered. The multiple-layer coating techniques of the lens provided superior anti-reflection performance, especially in backlighting portraits as in this particular portrait. I can also see how this lens would be a perfect fit for any product photographer, as it also captured Scotti’s ruby and diamond accessories with sharpness and clarity. Something most commercial photographers strive to accomplish in their work. This is attributed to the new specialized, high quality glass elements. 

For the main light I used a Dynalite flash head with an18” beauty dish, fitted with a grid and fired it through a Westcott Omega reflector. The shape of the reflector served as a gobo to create the shadow around the face, while keeping the brightness in the center of the face. I also used multiple black boards to control the light falloff and block direct light from striking the lower part of Scotti’s dress. The main light was metered at F/11, four feet from my subject. As a fill light, I used two 36” white and black umbrellas metering F/5 each. I varied the contrast throughout this setup by using either one or two fill lights. The fill was set to the left and right of my subject to create non-directional open fill. 

Money Shot. From all of our shot storyboarded, this is the one shot Scottie was counting on as her money shot. She wanted to create an avante-garde fashion shot using her sponsor’s bike frames, which would be able to be used for commercial advertising purposes. The lighting we used was the same, but we added a Dynalite Ring Flash set at a low angle for specular fill. This light was metered 3 stops less than the main light. We also switched our background to black velvet, which really made the frames standout. Scotti also had a makeup change to a bolder and graphic look, adding bright orange eye-shadow and blush to match the bicycle frame. 

© Hernan Rodriguez
SP 24-70mm, 70mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

The Tamron 24-70mm is such a sophisticated lens and in a class on its own.

Tips for How to Photograph The Super Moon

Tips for Photographing a Super Moon by David Akoubian.
Story Contributed by Tamron
The term “Blue” moon is based on the simple idea that 2 full moons occur in a single calendar month. 2018 has 2 months in which we will have 2 “Blue” moons. The one on January 31, 2018 is also a Super Moon, and the second of the month as well. A Super Moon means the position of the moon is closer to the Earth than normally, so it can appear a slight percentage larger in the frame.
I’m an old school guy who falls back on manual settings when it comes to photographing a full moon. I remember my mentor telling me that a full moon is the same as shooting in conditions to the old “Sunny 16” Rule. This means set your camera to manual, select an ISO, I like 200 then a shutter speed and aperture that is a reciprocal value of 1/200th of a second at f16. I prefer 1/800th of a second at f8. This will allow me to capture great detail in the moon and have a fast enough shutter speed to steady movement. I will use a tripod usually, but with a high enough shutter speed and Vibration Compensation, handholding the lens is possible. Depending on where you live, atmospheric conditions may dictate opening up a stop because of haze. If that happens I will either adjust the shutter speed to 1/200th or change the ISO to 400. If you are using either Aperture or Shutter Priority, you will need to adjust your exposure compensation to get detail in the moon usually.
My lens of choice is the Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 lens. I will use either a full frame camera or a cropped sensor camera and crop a little to my personal liking during the processing. I like to find objects to place in the foreground to give it a different look as well. The best day to capture the full moon in the early dusk light is the day before the actual full moon occurs or the day after at sunrise.
I encourage you to get out and shoot the moon, have fun, get lots of images, find things to place in the foreground, shoot it high in the sky, but go out and have fun!




 ISO 400, F/11, 1/800 sec, 600mm



 ISO 400, F/8, 1/200th sec, 600mm



 ISO 100, F/8, 1/15 sec 18mm


 ISO 400, F/9, 1/640 sec, 850mm

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

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

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