A Good Year

By scrolling through my blog page you will come to the realization that I am not much of a blogger after all. I can go on and on about how frustrating it is to find the time and inspiration to sit down and write a great post about things that I have done and would like to do, but I won't do that today. Today I want to be able to close my eyes and think back to everything that happened in the world of my Shutter Whispers during the past year.  

I'd like to think that it was a good year. I have accomplished many things that I set out to do. One of which was setting up a studio and being able to practice with different styles photography.  Having a studio near by allowed me to work more with portraits of families, which was a great experience. I wanted to try and accomplish as many portrait sessions for my friends as possible. I was able to do just that. Some were couples, some were kids, some were even professional portfolios. They all brought something valuable to my collection of experiences.  I think that one of the most important things that I have come to understand is light. How it works, and how it can make or break an image. Also, the importance of having the lighting set up ahead of time, to be able to concentrate on things that are unforeseen during a session. That is especially important when working with kids. I believe that a photographer must do their best to assess the situation a head of time, or have a trunk full of equipment to be ready for any kind of situation. Lack of either of these things will turn into problems that will be very hard to fix in post production.

I had a great experience with 4 models and a talented make up artist. This is going to turn out to be a very long post if I attempt to list  all of the good and bad things that came from that day. I guess I can now say that I have come to realize that it's difficult to put into words the things that I have learned. It is probably because I feel them deep inside, and that experience comes out only in the situations when it is needed. I guess some might call it auto pilot that allows you to, as Ryan Brenizer says "Solve Problems" as they appear in front of you.

One day in the Fall I had a great time serving as a second camera on a great wedding on Long Island. It was really great because the job did not involve a lot of pressure. It gave me a chance to step back and help using technical knowledge. You barely have any time to do that if you are shooting and concentrating on poses and people 

Next year I would want to put in more time into one specific project. That project might turn out to be one image, but I would want it to be done right. Everything will need to be perfect. The model, the wardrobe, the make up and the location. I know it's going to be hard to achieve, but if it won't be hard, that means that I won't grow.

I understand that this post is not very educational or insightful with respect to photography, but I felt that it was important for me to reflect on the year that passed in order to be able to foresee the year ahead. 

Real Estate Photography has been a big part of my year. In this post I'd like to share some of the best architectural photos that I took. If you are interested in any of these great houses you can get more information about them here.

Wishing everyone a very awesome Holiday Season and an inspirational winter.




Young Performers

I love music.  It has been a big part of my life, I always found a way to relate to it.  Sometimes, I imagine myself being on a stage, playing something wonderful, watching the audience enjoy my masterpiece. A few days ago I was invited to a recital of The Zen Music Institute in Edgewater, New Jersey  where many talented young musicians showed off their skills. It is really amazing that these children were exposed to instruments at an early age, and are able to come together and learn in a great musical environment.   

A Flourishing Family

What can be more beautiful than a growing family? It's always an honor to be able to capture a small, but precious piece of someone's family history. Meet the Baskin Family. They are Michelle, Andrey and their daughters: Rachel, Emily and the latest addition, four week old Sophia. It was really a joy to be able to work with this family. I am really thankful for the chance to be able to create these images for them. I am hoping to help the Baskins grow their family album, capturing life's beautiful moments.

Shooting Zio Toto

On a cold January evening Kristina Gershteyn and I were invited to one of Staten Island's latest Italian restaurants. The management of Zio Toto restaurant was looking to enter the social media pool of our community. They felt that some of the photographs that were circulating on the internet did not do this Italian culinary boutique justice

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Eric's Bar Mitzvah

A few days ago I had the pleasure of covering an important event in a young man's life. Reaching the age of Bar Mitzvah signifies that a person who was once a boy, is now ready to take on the world as a man. It was a great party. Eric has a lot of great friends and family that came out to celebrate with him. His passion for hockey was displayed all throughout the room along with a cardboard cut out of Eric in full hockey gear. 

I tried my best to capture Eric's personality and create a great memory for him. With his Mother and Sister by his side he gracefully took the lead into showing his guests a great time.

The party was about to jump off.
There was not questions about who was "The Man" that day.

Wisdom passed on....

Trying to fit everyone into the frame

If you fall, it's good to have a friend to break your fall. 

Official part of the party. The lighting of the 13 candles.
Make a wish...or a few!

"Thank you Mom, for everything that you do for me"

Baku Palace in Brooklyn has some great decorations.

Slowing down the shutter speed and firing a fast flash while moving the camera can have some interesting results if you have some fun light sources around the subject.


....and no so Fancy

Nice to share a Coke with a friend.
Nice to share a Coke with a friend.

checking up on FB status. 

A DJ at his own party.

The Man

Mazel Tov Eric

This was a great event for me to experience what I can do on my own. Armed with a hot shoe flash and a 2nd body with a 50mm f1.4 I was able to capture a lot more than I would if I only had one camera body with me. Of course the light was a bit tricky at times, but I learned a lot during this shoot. I wish Eric and his friends all the best.

PS. Who Knows? Maybe I'll shoot his wedding some day...:) 

Getting Ready For The Journey

In about two weeks I along with my wife and many suitcases, will embark on a 17-day journey that will take us to Ukraine and Turkey. First, with a two hour layover in Istanbul, We will arrive in our birth city of Kiev, Ukraine. I am hoping to spend the first couple of days exploring some of the famous sites of Kiev. I have been to Kiev before, but never with the type of equipment that is available to me now, so it will be interesting to discover the city all over again through the viewfinder of my trusty Canon 7D (which by the way just got an amazing firmware update). After spending a few days in Ukraine we'll make our way to one of Turkey's premier vacation destinations--the city of Bodrum. It was a quiet fishing town until in the mid-20th century when it started to develop as a tourist destination. Turkey to the Europeans is what Mexico and the Dominican Republic are to the Americans. I will be spending 7 days there and I am hoping to be able to capture some of the amazing landscapes and history that Bodrum has to offer. After that, it will be time to head back to Ukraine for another 4 days. The most exciting part of the trip will be our journey back to New York. After leaving Kiev, we will have an 18 hour layover in Istanbul. Istanbul is not a city that can be conquered in 18 hours, but we will be able to have a taste of it's rich history. I am hoping that the people who subscribe to my blog and follow me on facebook will accompany me on this journey through pictures and stories that I am looking forward to posting every chance I get close to a wi-fi connection.

I do my entire photo processing on my 17- inch lap top, but it is too bulky and heavy to take on such a trip. I do own an iPad2, and as most of you know, what it lacks in its processing power it makes up in the wide range of applications that can help with finalizing an amazing image on the road. I have not had much practice with processing raw files on the iPad, so I am giving it a try now, so that once I am on the road I will feel confident that my set of apps will help me produce the best possible content. Over the past few days I have been taking shots around the house with my Canon 7D and 100mm f2.8 Macro lens. I uploaded the images to the iPad using this CF Card reader and used the following apps to create art as I see it. I am hoping to see many interesting things on this trip and I am looking forward to your views and comments here and on Facebook.

Ipad Apps that I used to process these images.

PS Express Mobile HDR Filter Storm PS Touch Photo Studio HD IWatermark SnapSeed PicFrame

The following Images were edited using only the iPad.


Photomatix 4.2

Thanks to my friend Evelina Kremsdorf I just had a chance to try the new version of Photomatix 4.2. I must say that most of the time, it is my HDR application of choice, but ever since version 4.0 came out, I have been noticing something that has been irritating me quite a bit.  Every so often, some of the darker areas that were not illuminated by the brightest exposure come out with red noise pixels. I was interested to see if this issue was taken care of in v4.2.Unfortunately it was not.

Here is what I mean,

Here is a simple 3 shot exposure -3, 0, +3,

Click on the image and you will see what I mean. 

  This shot has been taken straight out of photomatix.  No filters, no photoshop adjustments. You can see that the dark area inside the shell is filled with red pixels. To me, it looks like the algorithm will show these red pixels whenever there is no information on the pixel. Of course this is a quick fix in photoshop, or if I really wanted to illuminate the inside of the shell, I would make the brightest exposure a +5 if +3 did not work all that well. That being said, Nik HDR PRO, does not leave the same artifacts in the dark areas. Take a look below.

Same 3 exposures processed in Nik HDR Effects Pro


The red pixels are not found here. 

In my opinion Photomatix is still the front runner in the HDR processing software and I will continue to use it, but as a photographer I like options and it's always great to have them, just in case.

Here is another shot straight out of Photomatix 4.2, that proves that it is still the king.

Early Memories

Recently, I got a chance to spend a day in the park with some of my closest friends. Most of them have kids and I thought that it would be a perfect scenario to see what I can come up with in terms of creating some childhood memories for them.

Photographing children is not the easiest of tasks. It is a lot easier to catch them doing what they usually do in their spare time rather than lining them up for a portrait. Running, crawling, throwing and jumping are the activities that kids will most likely be doing in the park. I knew that I had the whole afternoon to get the shots that I was looking for. In the end everything went according to plan.
When we got to the park, the kids were full of energy. Some of the older ones were running with the ball or playing catch as the youngest one was crawling in the grass and exploring the nature. So eager to get up and run, he could not, but that is not something that is going to last much longer. If I wanted to get everyone together for a portrait, now would be a bad time. I thought that I would stay away and let kids be kids. I grabbed my Canon 70-300mm f4 lens and positioned myself in places where I could comfortably get up close to the action as well as zoom out for those team action shots. It was a sunny day, but I still wanted to make sure that my camera would be able to freeze the action. To do that, I shot most of the day at ISO 320-640. With this sensitivity my shutter speed allowed me freeze some interesting expressions and stances of the older kids at play. The action with the little crawler was a bit harder to catch. He was constantly on the move and would only stop for a second, just to turn away from me and start off in a different direction. I had to reposition myself several times to catch his attention by making noises. Once he stopped and looked up, I only had a few seconds to take my shots. If I got my settings wrong at that point, it would be too late to change anything. Luckily I didn't.
Just as I thought, in the second part of the afternoon things slowed down a bit and it was time for me to change into my 50mm f1.4. As an ideal portrait lens, it helped me capture the kids’ faces with more of an artistic glow, using my shoe flash and the warm rays of the sun to my advantage.

The most important thing that I have learned on this trip is that you have to be prepared for anything. Knowing the location, the time and the weather gave me a big advantage. If you don't have any kids handy to try and achieve the following results of your own, you can try the same tactics on adults. Stay away, and see what happens. This won't guarantee cute and adorable subjects (most of the time), but you will be creating a memory none the less.

Be quick about it, otherwise he will just crawl away with your back to you.

As long as we are having fun

Once the sun is starting to set, use it to your advantage. It's better than any studio lighting. The fact that the ball was able to reflect some of the light back also created this cool lighting situation.

If you can't get their attention and shoot at the same time. Have someone stand behind you and distract, it will create a nice off camera look.

Selective focus is really important. It gives you a nice deapth of field. I like to pick a point of focus and stick to it I can move the camera to frame the shot the way that I want to and make sure my focus point is where I want to be. This was shot with a 50mm at f1.4.

Fish eye or a wide angle lens can give you a nice perspective.


Get down to their level, there is a whole new world down there :)

As you can see from my portfolio this was not a typical day of shooting for me. I really enjoyed it and I think I will make these outings a regularity.

I would like to thank my friends Adam and Mathew for allowing me to capture their smiles.

The difference that a year makes

One year ago, I set out on a journey in my hometown of Staten Island, to photograph some of its signature sites. This could have easily been a leisure trip, but this was actually one of the first projects that I ended up doing for statenislandlifestyle.com. The site is being run by one of my best friends Kristina Gershteyn. Staten Island is a big part of New York City, but over the years it has been getting a really bad reputation for various reasons. As its citizen and local real estate agent, Kristina felt that there was not enough light being shed on the great sites and businesses that our town had to offer. She also has been mentioning the fact that Staten island has been stepping out of its big brother's shadow (Manhattan) and was not being represented well in some of the outside media. That is how StatenIslandLifestyle.com was born.

San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. Staten Island has the Verrazano Bridge. Some of the best views of the bridge can be found in Fort Wadsworth and that is where I took these shots. One year ago I was new to the world of digital photography. I was trying to soak in as much information as I could. This is one of my first HDR images and I really liked it at first, but I really hate it now. 

One year since the original shot and processing.... Here is a look at what I saw and felt then, and what I see and feel now.



1 year later


Both of these shots are 3 shot HDR. Processed in Photomatix 3.0 and then a few adjustments in Photoshop CS5. The only difference is my vision of today and 1 year ago. You, the reader be the judge of what looks better to you. 1 year is really not a long time, but in this context this period represents my growth as a photographer and this is just one link in what I am hoping is going to become a life long chain of creativity and education.

After doing the first shot I went back a few days later and shot the dawn on that same location. Here is another before and after shot. I am my best critic and the before shot here is just horrific in my opinion. It represents everything that an HDR shot should not be. 



1 Year Later. I was able to merge the 3 shot HDR with a different tone mapping technique. Then I merged it with the darkest exposure to create what I think is an (ok) representation of the actual scene. I chose to re-process the shot with the sun well above the horizon line. For the purposes of this post I did not fine tune the borders of the mask so that you can easily see the transition.


Art begins with a whisper

The idea behind the name of this site/blog came to me while hitting godaddy.com with possible domain ideas and getting rejections 9 out of 10 times. After a personal brain storm of ideas which included variations with photography slang and camera body parts I had to stop and approach this task as if I was approaching a photography project. Where does the process of the photograph begin? Sure it begins with feelings, desire, gear, planning, people, connections and many many more things that intertwine to create the final print of art. However, technically it begins when you press the shutter button. To me, it is the signature of the tool that you hold in your hands. Digital or mechanical, mirror less or with a reflection, the sound that your camera makes when it captures your vision is shutter whisper. Of course it also helped a lot that the domain name was available, so I grabbed it.

I have never done a blog before and you can head over to the "about" so that I can formally introduce myself to you. The vision of this project is to learn and explore the world of photography through my experiences and I am really hoping that in time this is going to become a docking station for photographers who are willing to share their visions in order for us to dig deeper into the creative abyss.  


To get things started here is my most popular image according to the communities of Red Bubble500px and Fine Art America. I call it:

a saucerful of secrets