" February 2016 "

2016 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Preview

Happy Monday! We are only a little more than a week away from the 2016 Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, and preparation is well underway at the park. Many of the flowers and topiaries are already installed, and I wanted to share a few photos of them with all of you today that I shot over the weekend.

The flower beds are installed, and monorail reflections frame them wonderfully.

The flower beds are installed, and monorail reflections frame them wonderfully.

The classic monorail shot from the other side of Future World.

The classic monorail shot from the other side of Future World.

Anna and Elsa have moved from the center of the park to Norway, which makes sense, as their ride and meet and greet open later this year in that location.

Anna and Elsa have moved from the center of the park to Norway, which makes sense, as their ride and meet and greet open later this year in that location.

They'll be replaced by a Ranger Mickey topiary in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service!

They’ll be replaced by a Ranger Mickey topiary in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service!

The festival is a great chance to get lots of colors in your photos and make some pretty great compositions.

The festival is a great chance to get lots of colors in your photos and make some pretty great compositions.

Captain Hook and Pan are back in the UK again this year.

Captain Hook and Pan are back in the UK again this year.

There is nothing quite like a monorail shot. Add all these flowers and color and it really is the best time of the year at Epcot.

There is nothing quite like a monorail shot. Add all these flowers and color and it really is the best time of the year at Epcot.

We’ll be sharing plenty of photos as the festival officially starts as well as some tutorials on ways to capture it best, so definitely make sure to keep an eye out for that. Are you excited to photograph Epcot in bloom? What’s your favorite lens for Flower and Garden Festival? Let us know in the comments!!

For those curious, these were all shot with the Sony a7 and either the Zeiss 55mm F1.8 or Rokinon 14mm F2.8 lenses, both of which are available at our Amazon store. If you need anything from Amazon, clicking the link helps us keep the site running, at no extra cost to you! Thanks for reading!

Workflow (Part II), a Deal Alert and another poll

DEAL ALERT: 

Ben Hendel forwarded me a link on twitter to a Groupon for Canvas Prints……..a pretty good deal that you can combine with coupon code GREEN25 for an extra 25% off.  If you’ve been thinking about printing on Canvas, don’t let this deal pass you up.

 

WORKFLOW, Part II

Last Wednesday I wrote a quick article about Workflow and covered what I do with photos when I’m on a vacation.  In today’s post I’ll finish that discussion up with what I do with the photos once I get home.  Make sure you get all the way to the bottom of the article because we are running another poll.

I will be the first one to admit it that I’m a horder when it comes to holding on to digital photographers.  So please, don’t take what I’m writing as some kind of gospel.  I know there have been many, many discussions on the topic of getting rid of the bad photos in your catalog of images.  I know that it eats up hard drive space and makes backing things up more time consuming.  But I just can’t seem to find the heart / courage to delete large swaths of photos from my hard drive.

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All the photos from this post are from Hong Kong Disneyland.  I know the sky isn’t much to write home about here…..but you have to understand the Smog does not allow for big puffy white cloud and brilliant blue skies like Florida can.

So when I come home from a trip, I take the photos and copy them over to my computer.  In my photos directory on my PC – I have a directory for every year and then a photo for each month of the year – then folders for each day of that month that I actually take photos.  I can hear all of  the Lightroom users out there screaming at me through the internet as I type this post about how I’m doing this the most time consuming and manual way process.  To be honest with you, I didn’t have Lightroom until a year ago and old habits die hard so I haven’t made the switch to catalogs.

I shoot Raw+JPG – I want the JPGs there so I can quickly grab a photo and distribute them to other family members on the trip without having to edit things but I want the RAW for when I want to do the edits.  And I let both files exist in the same folder on my computer – filed by year, month and date.

I will then just use the slideshow viewer built into Windows (or Preview on my Mac if I’m doing work on that machine) to get a quick glimpse of the JPG versions (interestingly enough, Windows 10 can actually preview the RAW files too in that slide show application).  I’ll make notes in my notebook for any particular photos that I want to grab for later editing and I keep a little star list going in my notebook so I know which ones I like the best.

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I’ll bring those photos into Lightroom and Photoshop for further editing.   Remember I’m a horder.  So I’ll save the PSD of the edits as well as the original image in case I want to go back and re-process the shot.  As I learn more about Photoshop & Lightroom I find that I can make better edits and surprisingly you can go back into older photos and give them new life with a fresh round of processing.

So what is your workflow?  Go ahead and leave a comment below (click Read More) and let me know how I’m doing it wrong (lol).

Contributor Alan Rappaport was running a poll on Twitter last week and I thought I would borrow his idea and see if we can get him more data.  If you happen to have already voted in his poll on Twitter, please don’t vote again here.

Since you started shooting digital photos....how many cameras have you purchased

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Using the Rule of Thirds

Happy Monday everyone! For today’s post, I wanted to share a simple compositional technique that can help your photos very quickly and very easily.

The technique is called the Rule of Thirds. Basically, what it means is you take your photo and draw a tic tac toe board over top of it. That means two vertical lines and two horizontal lines, each one of them either one third across or one third up or down the frame. Once that is done, there are 4 points where the lines intersect. The whole idea is to place your subject right on one of those four points. By doing this, your image can have more kinetic energy and appears more dynamic than simply placing the subject in the center. Take this shot of the Little Mermaid ride at Magic Kingdom for example.

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This photo has a lot going on that you want. There are nice clouds and a blue sky, good lighting touching the building and a nice little amount of warmth. But, when you look at it and Prince Eric’s castle is in the center, it feels stagnant and like it isn’t going anywhere. But, by changing your focus point and adjust your camera ever so slightly, you get this.

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Now, we have a photo that has some motion. By moving the subject out of the center just that little bit, we are also able to incorporate more foliage into the top left hand corner of the shot, which creates some additional framing for the castle itself.

Now, am I saying it is incorrect to place the subject of your photos in the center of the frame? Absolutely not. I could show you thousands of photos that break this ‘rule’ that are stunning and interesting and work perfectly fine. But, thinking with that grid over your photo is an easy way to always be thinking about your compositions and what they mean. Most cameras now a days (iPhones included) even have a grid built into either the LCD or the viewfinder, so you place your subject very easily.

Hopefully this little tip will help a bunch of you while out in the field creating some images. If you’re curious as to the equipment used, these were shot with the Sony a7 and the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 lens, both of which can be purchased through our Amazon store, along with any of your other needs. Thanks for reading!

Workflow

Blog Reader Chris Shane posted in the comments the other day, asking what our workflow was like with our photos.  What did we do with them when we took them off the card, how do we organize them, do we store them in the “good” folder or the “bad” folder, do we save the original image or just the processed image.  This was a great question and honestly we could probably devote several posts to the matter over the next several months with each of us taking a turn to talk about our workflow.  Since I was looking for some inspiration on what to talk about in my next blog post when the comment came in, I thought I would tackle it here.
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My workflow starts before I even head into the parks for a trip.  You might think it’s crazy but with memory cards being so cheap these days, I have lots of SD cards for my camera.  But before I take a trip, I make sure that I have one card for each day of the trip and that they are all blank and formatted in the camera.  Yup, one card for each day of the trip but more on that later.  I store my memory cards in this handy-dandy JJC SDMSD24.  To be honest, I’ve never checked out the water resistant nature of the case so your mileage may vary.  The rubber gaskets around the edges make me think thought that it just might be water resistant like the description claims.  It’s a hard case, so I don’t have to worry about the cards getting smashed.

Each day of the trip I pull out the next two blank memory cards from the case.  One goes into the camera and the other goes into pouch in my Kata camera strap, which is no longer available.  Even with the 8 gig cards, I can still fit 209 RAW+ JPG images on each card.  I tend to shoot a lot (and my ratio of keepers to trash is quite low) but even I’m hard pressed to burn through 2 8 gig cards in a day.


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When I get back to the hotel room, the last thing I do before I go to bed is fire up the laptop and transfer the images from the card to there and an external backup drive that I bring with me.  I create a folder on the laptop and external drive named for the trip and create sub-folders underneath for each memory card.  Then I copy that card into the appropriate sub-folder.  I then put the day’s card (or cards if I shot over a card) back into the hard case and load up the camera for the next letter of the alphabet and the next card after that goes into the camera strap.  I told you in my Backup Strategies post I’m pretty worried about losing data.  That’s why I keep everything on the card until I get back home, I have the copy on my laptop, and I have the backup hard drive (and yes, I keep the hard drive in a separate bag from the laptop and the memory cards so in theory I’m covered in case I lose a bag).

In subsequent posts I’ll talk about what I do once I get the images home.  But that’s for a later post.

So what do you all do when you are on a trip?  I know in theory you could upload copies to Dropbox, or Backblaze, or Google Drive……but the Internet connection in the Disney hotels isn’t exactly the best.  It would drive me insane unless I was only uploading the “good ones” up to the cloud.   Hit the read more button and leave a note for what you do with your photos on a trip.

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