New Jersey Nature Photography: Woodland Stream

Here’s a photo I took yesterday with my IR-converted Olympus PEN E-PL2 and the Tamron 14-150mm Di III lens.  I like the composition of my shot, the foreground shrub nicely fills in some negative space, and the forest fills in the upper 3rd of the frame.  I also really like the backlighting strongly showing through the leaves.  I do feel that the highlights on the stream itself are a bit strong.  The highlights are clearly blown out in several areas, even after a small amount of highlight recovery from the Raw file.  Does the image work as a whole?  I will leave that up to the viewers.

NJ Nature Pic

#NewJersey #Nature #Photo taken in Rockaway Township using the tripod mounted Olympus PEN E-PL2 and the #Tamron 14-150mm Di III lens.

The shortcut to becoming a better photographer

“The shortcut to becoming a better photographer”

An opinion essay by Dave Blinder

Bird Photo

A gull is silhouetted by golden sunlight in late afternoon in this #nature #photograph

The shortcut to becoming a better photographer


I’ve been asked many times by friends, acquaintances, and strangers what lens and camera they should purchase to take better photographs.  Often times I will recommend they purchase nothing at all, except for a few books or even pay to attend a photography seminar.  Unfortunately this is rarely the answer anyone cares to hear, and it could be interpreted as a facetious statement.

There certainly are times when aspiring photographers should upgrade their equipment when they can afford to do so. However, no equipment can compensate for photographing in harsh mid-day light or taking all photographs handheld with your camera at eye-level. The shortcut to becoming a better photographer is… realizing that there are no shortcuts. The shortcut is waking up at weekends at 4AM to arrive on-location before sunrise. The shortcut is having the discipline to always put your camera on a tripod and investigating all possible angles of view.

The shortcut is taking advantage of all photography learning sources available and attending every major seminar you can. Seek experienced constructive critiques and have the strength to let go of your weakest images. Take a few of your straight out of camera images, skip the digital darkroom, and put them right on the internet. Don’t shoot subjects in the shade and expect to boost the shadows. Study the qualities of natural and artificial light and learn how to capture and mold the light.

Purchase a rain cover for your camera and be willing and even enthusiastic to photograph in cold and wet weather. Figure out what all of your peers are taking photos of and then figure out what they are not taking photos of. Stop making excuses not to shoot, make excuses to shoot. The shortcut to becoming a better photographer is to avoid shortcuts, get started today.

– Dave Blinder, 12/2014

Words and image by Dave Blinder, Denville, New Jersey.  Feel free to circulate or share but please leave text and photo untouched.  Thank you.

New Jersey Nature Photography: Beaver Pond in Infrared

Before family holiday obligations yesterday, I did sneak out for a couple of quick hours of Christmas morning photography.  Below is a handheld Infrared shot.  Technically speaking, it is a UV + Infrared Spectrum photo.  I initially set up the tripod for this scenic capture, but the legs of the tripod cast a distinct shadow in the foreground.  Only solution was to shoot handheld, not necessarily an easy task with the increased exposure times occurring after the visible light spectrum has been removed.  Out of about 15 frames, and very tightly bracing the camera I got one or two critically sharp frames at ISO 400.

NJ Nature Photo

A scenic #nature capture taken at Wildcat Ridge WMA in #NewJersey. Photo taken with the Infrared-converted Olympus PEN E-PL2 camera and the #Tamron 14-150mm Di III lens.

Exposure settings: 1/6s F/8.0 ISO 400, 14mm

Infrared Nature Photography Trials

This Saturday was my first day trying infrared photography.  I had sent my Olympus PEN E-PL2 micro four thirds camera in for IR conversion and to eliminate the normal visible light.  Service was provided by ebay vendor image-laboratory and the conversion was very fast and well performed.  The below photos were taken using that camera and also with my Tamron 14-150mm Di III All-In-One lens.

New Jersey Infrared Nature Photo

An UV + IR capture of the Old Barney Lighthouse in Barnegat Light #NewJersey. Infrared #photo taken with the #Olympus PEN E-PL2 m43 camera and the #Tamron 14-150mm Di III All-In-One lens.

New Jersey Infrared Photography

An IR capture at sunrise in Ocean County #NewJersey. Infrared #photo taken with the #Olympus PEN E-PL2 m43 camera and the #Tamron 14-150mm Di III All-In-One lens.

I’m really enjoying the pronounced effects of capturing IR and/or UV spectrum light, however my techniques will require a bit of refinement.

– Dave

New Jersey Nature Photography: HDR Comparison

It’s been quite a while since I’ve dabbled in HDR processing, probably 3 or 4 years.  I have mostly tried to shoot photos and process photos in straightforward yet appealing manners.  My personal credo is always “get it right in the camera” and “study the qualities of light”.  I do think putting the utmost effort and quality into any form of photography is very important.  With that in mind, I was out shooting today and bracketed my shutter speed slightly for five frames to see what extra dynamic range I could pull into a scene with an apparently wide gamut.

Side by side comparison of individual RAW with straightforward processing and a five exposure HDR merge.  Click on photo to view larger version.

NJ HDR Photography

An overcast day in New Jersey contained a washed-out sky and a flatly lit foreground. My main goal in #HDR processing was to see what detail I could add to the sky, while avoiding halos. Photo taken with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the Canon T5 DSLR.

One of my concerns with processing is often the retention of fine detail in the photo.  I’ve uploaded crops of the single exposure and the HDR merge below.  There is a perceivable amount of softness in the HDR crop, but overall I still like the end product.

HDR photography detail retention

A central crop from the frame of a single exposure and an #HDR merge. Slight ghosting and detail smearing can be noticed on close inspection. Both photos taken with the #Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the #Canon T5 DSLR.

I will let the viewers decide which (if either) of the photos they like.  I think even my HDR photo is on the drab side, but I can live with it.

New Jersey Nature Photography: Hibernia Brook #2

Below is my favorite photo from yesterday.  A 10-stop neutral density filter was fitted over my lens, greatly increasing exposure time and consequently softening the appearance of the water.  I’ve been told by family members that this style of photo looks “fake”.  An interesting thought is that a camera can’t record fake images, but imaging devices have the ability to capture time in ways greatly different than the human eye.  There are theories that the human eye/brain refreshes at a rate of approximately 1/50th of a second.  A person could deduce that long and fast exposures may consequently look “fake” to humans.  Does the human perception of time dictate what’s real and what isn’t?  …deep thoughts…

NJ Nature Photo

Softly flowing water falls into shadows and intersects with dark rocks. Photo taken in #NewJersey with the #Tamron 14-150mm Di III lens and the #Olympus PEN E-PL3 m43 camera.

Exposure settings: 2s F/10 ISO 200, 150mm

Equipment used: Tamron 14-150mm Di III lens + ND filter + Olympus PEN E-PL3 camera

New Jersey Nature Photography: Water Falling on Leaf #1

Yesterday, while out doing local nature photography in Morris County, New Jersey, I decided to pair my Tamron 14-150mm Di III All-In-One lens with a set of Meike MK-P-AF3B extension tubes to my Olympus PEN EPL3 micro four thirds camera.  The purpose of the extension tubes was to allow the lens to focus closer than normal.  The main drawback of tubes is always the loss of infinity focus.

Below is my favorite shot from yesterday morning, and an uncropped one.  It always becomes a visual exploration for me to photographically capture little segments of nature, especially with moving elements like water.  The weathered Oak Leaf was a great secondary element, located just under the trickles of water.  The trickles were falling off a mossy rock in a slight bend in the stream.  Post-processing on the photo included a slight creative white balance shift, and also some reintroduction of contrast to the RAW file.

NJ Nature Art

A closeup photo of three small trails of water descending around an old Oak Leaf in #NewJersey. Picture taken with the #Tamron 14-150mm All-In-One Lens, Meike AF extension tubes for close focus, and the #Olympus PEN E-PL3 micro four thirds camera.

Exposure settings: 1s F/9 ISO 200, 132mm

Equipment used:
Tamron 14-150mm Di III All-In-One lens

Zeikos 52mm circular polarizing filter

Meike MK-P-AF3B extension tubes

Olympus PEN EPL3 m43 camera

Manfrotto 488RC2 ballhead

Benro carbon fiber tripod

For a quick look at the camera and lens setup, view on my Instagram account –

New Jersey Videography: Drum Test 12.10.2014

Last night I decided to point my Tamron macro lens and my RODE microphone at my small electronic drum pad for a few seconds and let the video roll.  The most challenging and rewarding parts of home audio recordings to me are getting the proper levels, avoiding clipping, and making sure the tones don’t sound lifeless.  Sounds easy, but not necessarily so.  Luckily, as I continue to do these projects for fun, the workflow gets more intuitive.

Equipment used for the recording:

Tamron SP AF 90mm Di macro lens
RODE Videomic Go
Zoom H1N

Yamaha DD-55C drum pad


New Jersey Art Photo: Cedar

The below featured photo was taken two days in Morris County, New Jersey.  I employed a few different shooting techniques that day, ranging from Impressionist strokes (ICM) to straightforward lock-down shots on my tripod.  Some photos are successful, majority were not.  I expect many photos to be compositional and technical failures, it’s part of the journey and if creating good art was easy it would be less gratifying.

Moving along… the shot below was taken handheld with a very slight vertical hand movement aka Intentional Camera Movement (ICM).  This photo works for me because the composition looks balanced and the details like the tree bark are very visible, yet the photo is inherently soft.  A slight white balance shift completes the piece.

NJ Art Photo

An #art photo of a cedar tree, executed in an #Impressionist manner. Photo taken with the #Tamron 16300mm VC AllInOne lens and the Canon EOS 50D DSLR.

Exposure settings: 2s F/22 ISO 200 + Intentional Camera Movement

New Jersey Nature Photography: Currents

When outside creating photo art, it can be extremely important to previsualize individual shots as segments of a cohesive set or exhibition.  It isn’t necessary to complete a themed set in one outing, one week, one month, or even in one year.  You also do not need to be working on just one theme at a time, but it is important to stay the course so that your artwork can be perceived as a visual study with impact.  Below are some photos I took on Saturday, and while very similar at first glance there are compositional difference throughout.  I’m not sure that this set is complete, but I will use this to contact local art galleries to get feedback on my concept.

NJ Art Photos

A recent series of #nature extract photos taken in New Jersey. Taken handheld with the #Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the #Canon EOS 50D DSLR.

All above photos were taken handheld with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the Canon EOS 50D DSLR.