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.

Fancy

....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...:) 

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.

Before

 

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. 

 Before

 

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