First Friday Art Walk Albuquerque May 2019

First Friday Art Walk Albuquerque May 2019

Art Acrobats Dance Downtown Albuquerque Event

On the first Friday of each month downtown Albuquerque becomes an outdoor art exhibit and market, but actually much more than that. You can walk through an interactive light art experience, decorate the streets in chalk, and dance like you are trying to win a contest! Those are just some of the things I witnessed the first Friday in May 2019 in downtown Albuquerque.

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Albuquerque Civic Plaza Water Feature Drone Video Aqua Design

Albuquerque Civic Plaza Water Feature Drone Video Aqua Design

Cinematic and Whimsical Albuquerque Drone Video

Have you ever sat and stared in bemused amazement at the water feature in Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico? It was designed by Aqua Design International. They contacted me about making a creative drone video of the water feature really showing off the range of fountains and colors they display at dusk. This was my first time to fly my DJI Mavic Pro drone in such low light. After a brief test flight I was very glad to find out it could record video in these conditions and that the final, edited 4K drone video made Aqua Design so happy. The music I selected I think really compliments the visuals. Press play, and take a 3 minute whimsical break!

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Commercial Photography License downtown St. Petersburg Florida skyline by Free Art Friday DTSP

I was contacted this week by Free Art Friday DTSP about licensing one of my many downtown St. Petersburg skyline panorama images for use on their new Facebook page.  After the client finalized their choice for what photo, since it is for a Facebook cover image, which needs to be 851x315 (crazy, I know) a specific crop of the image had to be decided upon.  I then provided the client with the image in exact resolution to fit neatly into their Facebook cover image space.  Of course, unfortunately, for some unknown reason Facebook remains the only major website to reduce image quality of images uploaded to it.  Still, the image chosen holds up well and works complimentary with the standard Facebook background color.

Be sure and visit and "like" support this new project to showcase and promote local St. Petersburg art and culture.

Nikon D80 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson in St. Petersburg Florida with Frank

Nikon D80 moving subject practice in downtown St. Petersburg FloridaMy first 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson of November 2012 was on a very pleasant morning in downtown St. Petersburg Florida meeting Frank and his pristine Nikon D80.  His DSLR was pristine because it had been sitting in a very safe case for a couple of years.  My lesson with Frank was to make sure his D80 keeps seeing the light of day!

For awhile now I have been starting out my photography students right in manual mode.  For a long time I had been starting them in aperture priority mode, but have changed my own teaching methodology.  I mean, shooting in manual mode only adds one more thing to the list of settings for making a well exposed and sharp shot in any giving shooting condition, so why not just go right to the real stuff?

Besides teaching the technical details of exposure, in a first DSLR photography lesson I also teach ergonomics, as in where the buttons are to change settings on that particular student's camera body, how to change lenses safely and how to stand and hold the camera to insure the most stable shooting position.  All these things to me matter just as much as knowing you should use AF-C for moving subjects rather than AF-S.

I hope after our lesson Frank enjoys using his Nikon D80 to make beautiful photos of Florida and it only stays in the case between locations!

How to Photograph Fireworks - 4th of July Fireworks St. Petersburg Florida 2012

4th of July Fireworks over downtown St. Petersburg Florida 2012 - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/11 ISO 200 10.5 sec tripod mounted with cable release covering lens frequently with a cardThere is an art and methodology to photographing fireworks that if you have the necessary gear is pretty fun.  To photograph fireworks properly you need:

  • DSLR camera with bulb mode
  • Lens with appropriate focal length for your location
  • Very stable tripod
  • Cable release
  • A stiff card large enough to cover the front of your lens

Other tips for shooting fireworks:

  • Choose a spot with a clear open view (obviously!)
  • Choose a spot that is upwind (so smoke does not blow into your shots)
  • Include foreground elements (do not just shoot the fireworks themselves)
  • Do not record overlapping fireworks (will just look blown out in one spot)

4th of July Fireworks in St. Petersburg Florida 2012 - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/11 ISO 200 27.4 sec tripod mounted with cable release covering lens frequently with a cardThe actual process for making and recording a multiple firework image:

  1. While still light out focus on something where the fireworks will be
  2. Set your focus to manual focus so you do not have to worry about autofocusing in the dark
  3. Use manual exposure mode set to bulb mode and f/8 or f/11 & your lowest ISO
  4. Hold the shutter open with your cable release when seeing a streak going into the air
  5. Cover the front of the lens quickly & carefully with the card
  6. When the firework explodes remove the card for a split second
  7. If another firework explodes in a different spot, remove the card again
  8. Repeat step 7 a few times then release the shutter

4th of July fireworks finale in St. Petersburg Florida 2012 - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/11 ISO 200 28.8 sec tripod mounted with cable release covering lens frequently with a cardI also try to avoid removing the card for fireworks that are just bright balls of light as these tend to overexpose and just look like all-white blobs.  Overly bright fireworks can also reflect light onto smoke in the sky ruining the shot.  The ideal is to catch a streaking firework trail going up, a low firework explosion, a middle one, and then a very high one.  This evening they tended to explode in the same spot like three times in a row, which is no good as the overlapping makes them start to again look like an all-white blob.  If you are patient, study the patterns of explosions, and use good technique exposing the front of the lend with the card, then you will give yourelf the best chance at creating a satisfying fireworks multiple explosion image.  

Post a link to your fireworks shots in the comments below!

Banyan Trees on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg

The two famous banyan trees on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 9-exposure HDR on tripod with cable releaseThere are banyan trees throughout the downtown St. Petersburg area and nearby surrounding areas, but no banyans are as famous or more photographed than the two trees above located right on Beach Drive NE.  As large as they are, they always seem to appear all of a sudden to passersby who often audibly gasp upon seeing them.

I first photographed banyan trees in the St. Petersburg downtown area back in August 2011 when walking back to my car after a meeting I passed by this pair.  

Photographing the famous Beach Drive NE banyan trees is rather challenging.  Their large branches and wide trunks create deep shadows and on one side of them is always a row of parked cars not making for the greatest background.  The angle of composition I chose was the only one I could find that included almost no man-made objects in the shot.  I used my Induro CT214 tripod with all the legs collapsed, shooting from just about a foot of the ground.  I chose to make a 9-exposure HDR image in order to get detail from within the trunk shadows as well as in the bright sky above.

St. Petersburg Downtown Waterfront Skyline at Twilight

St. Petersburg Florida waterfront at Twilight, this image available for fine art print & commercial license - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 10 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseThe waterfront of St. Petersburg, Florida is home to the third largest continuous waterfront park in North America (behind Vancouver and Chicago).  This is why at the very edge where the city meets Tampa Bay as viewed from the water the first thing you will see are trees.  This long park system is my favorite part of the entire city.  

I made this photograph from a secret-ish spot on The Pier allowing for a low near water-level viewpoint of the St. Petersburg skyline.  The ten second exposure allowed for some motion blur on the surface of the water and for pulling out the last remaining light in the twilight sky.