Festivals, carnivals and other outdoor events can offer a huge opportunity for interesting photographs. For me, I try to a local event that’s going to have rides (rides have lights – this is important) and, if I am extra lucky, maybe some fireworks too. The next step is to plan my arrival which I usually try to get somewhere around sunset. The only thing left to do is find your composition, set up your camera and tripod and then slow that shutter speed down as much as possible. That usually means an aperture of f/22, ISO of 100 and a shutter speed between 2 and 30 seconds, depending on what time of the evening it is.
USE LONG SHUTTER SPEEDS TO MOTION TO SUMMER FESTIVALS, CARNIVALS, AND EVENTS.
Benjamin Lehman is a commercial, advertising, portrait and landscape photographer in the Canton, Akron, Cleveland and north east Ohio area.
Get out and smell the roses
Of, if sniffing the flora isn’t your thing, you can always take pictures instead. I’ve opted for the former, myself. Summer offers a great chance to capture the world in all of it’s warm (and sometimes humid) glory. Here are some landscapes we grabbed over the past two weeks as we explored both DunDee Falls near Beach Town, Oh, and Virginia Kendall Ledges inside of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
With only a few exceptions, I never like to take the same picture twice. When people come to my portfolio I want them to feel like they are always seeing something for the first time – Indeed, perhaps my personal style is more about being different than it is about any one repeatable technique. Whatever the case, it can feel frustrating at times when you look out of your studio windows and you can’t see any unique photo opportunities waiting for you. In those cases, there’s one obvious solution – exploration.
Keeping it simple, I suggest the following. Go to Mapdevelopers.com and fiddle-around with their map tool that let’s you draw a radius around your starting point. I am setting the radius to be somewhere around 20 or so miles, because that roughly correlates to 30 minutes of driving time in most cases, depending on which roads I plan on traveling. Once your radius is set, zoom in and around the map and just try to find spots where you’ve never been. 30 minutes of travel is no big thing, and I think we can agree that amount of time can usually fit into even the busiest person’s schedule – so no excuses!
Exactly what you are looking to explore is a matter of taste, but this gives you the ability to focus on an idea without getting overwhelmed. Whether looking for water, old cities, country roads, busy streets – just scan your radius for whatever fits the bill. Last week when I did this, I was looking for old-world farms and vistas, and we found em! But I also found some other interesting things that I hadn’t known about previously. Scanning the outer edge of my radius I found a new set of waterfalls I had no idea existed. I’m already planning another 30 minute excursion for that once the seasons change a bit more.
Sometimes it’s a good thing to plan a large trip, especially if you are a landscape photographer, to go out and experience some of the world’s most amazing scenery. However, you shouldn’t feel locked-in and isolated, even in an area that you may feel you’ve previously exploited. Approaching the problem in a new way may help you discover places and things that would have fallen under the radar otherwise!
Below are some of the photos I took on my last 30 minute adventure.
Benjamin Lehman is a professional commercial, advertising, portrait, landscape and wedding photographer in the Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Northeast Areas of Ohio.
Winter Landscape Photography
As of writing this we are still 11 days away from the official start to the winter season. But let’s be honest, once the snow starts to gather on the ground we can call it winter for all express purposes. For me, this is a great thing – I love winter landscapes. I love those big billowy, soft, snow draped trees; those massive, pristine snow drifts – ah, so gorgeous. I also like, by contrast, the more dirty, gritty urban snow-scapes. The muddy, frozen over puddles. The old barns, draped with half melted snow, abandoned for warmer locations. After-all, one of winter’s most evocative moods, for me, is that sense of the forgotten, and left-behind. It’s that amazing feeling of loneliness that captivates me.
Finding locations for these lonesome photos is the easy part. If you live in urban and city areas, just go seek out the quiet alley-ways and evening streets. If you live in a more rural area, find an old farm and barn that’s isolated. Sunset/Sunrise and the blue hours are your best bets. Morning or night just depends on your preference. If it has snowed over the evening, then your morning shots will have a more untouched look to them. In those cases it may be better to wait till evening to get that more worn-in look as the day takes it’s toll. Of course, if it’s going to warm up too much over the day then the morning might offer the best opportunities before the snow melts too much.
What to look for
Like I said, finding the landscape is the easy part. The harder part if finding the mood. Much of that is crafted by the light – that is why I suggest golden and blue hours. Composition is important too. Because of my decades as creative director I can’t help but think and visualize in metaphors and feelings. I don’t look for compositions that read like, “Red-barn on a white field”, or “rule-of-thirds”, or whatever else you normally read about concerning what makes a good photograph. Instead, I look for compositions that speak to me in terms like, isolation, alone, opportunity, hope, strength, leadership, melancholy, etc. I do this because if I can craft a photo that captures the feeling and metaphor in my mind, I know my picture will do a better job conveying that emotion to the viewer.
So, in practice, if you’re out in the field and you see two possible photos: Maybe one is a more classical rule-of-thirds arrangement of your subject against the background. and your second presents a different composition but also conjures memories of a time where you felt cold, and alone, or whatever, then I would strongly suggest exploring that second option first. You can always take the tried and true compositionally correct photo once you’re done, but that second photo which elicits emotion will probably be the photo that resonates with your audience.
I’ll be honest, photos like these have a lot more to do with how you think creatively, and much less to do with all of the “rules” you’ve ever learned about photography. To bring emotion into your photos means you have to learn to recognize your own feelings in that moment and know how to capture them for other’s to see. My best advice is just to be open to what you are feeling when you are on location. If you’re feeling uninspired or nothing at all it just means you need to move around a bit and reorient yourself until you begin to feel that flicker run through your chest and down your arms, spine and legs.
Now, put on some warm clothes, grab your camera and prepare to to brave the cold this winter and express yourself through photography!
Benjamin Lehman is an award winning commercial photographer in the Canton, Akron, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio area.
It's been a minute, fam
Just wanted to take a quick moment and say, it’s good to be back! For those who don’t know, I am the owner and creative director of a graphic design agency, Emotiv. And, well, it’s been busy over in Design-land for the past eight or so months. Things haven’t really slowed down any, but I am managing my time a little better and finding more opportunities to take pictures.
In short, we’re back and we’re loving it! Let’s start off with some Senior Portraits:
Allow me to introduce Alex – an absolutely amazing and classy guy. This was a fun shoot (as you can see from the photos!). When you are a photographer, you live for gigs like this one. Alex is heavily tied in with his school’s marching band, so it was imperative to integrate that into this photo series. Luckily, we had some connections on the inside which allowed us to, ahem, borrow, the band’s bus for an hour. Next, I whisked him off to a quiet patch of parkland here known as the children’s garden, in Canton Ohio’s McKinley Monument park. There’s this little grove of ever greens that I knew would look awesome in the overcast, late Autumn light. I simply placed him in the trees and, wow, the picture sort of just took itself. That’s the best part about amazing locations, they take a lot of the effort off your shoulders as a photographer.
I shot most of these photos with just one strobe. For the football field and the bus, I used an Paul C. Buff Einstein flash unit as my main light. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but it was 1pm on a very clear and sunny day. I needed the Einstein’s power to allow me to correctly expose Alex against the insanely bright environment. I used a second flash to light the side of the bus. For the portraits at the park I, again, defaulted to use of use one flash; this time opting for a speedlight as my light source.
Quite honestly, this turned out to be one of the most enjoyable shoots I’ve done in a long while – it just makes me that much more excited to be behind the camera again!
Benjamin Lehman is a commercial photographer in the Massillon, Canton, Akron, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio area.
How do you create those really soft, flowery fireworks photos?
I am gonna keep this short and sweet! The trick to create these flower-esque firework photos is really simple
- Frame your shot
- A good starting point for camera settings are 100 iso, 5.6/f, 1 second shutter
- Turn your focus ring until completely out of focus.
- Press the shutter button once a firework goes off in your view finder
- Turn the focus ring from out-of-focus to in-focus over the course of the 1 second shutter.
- The End!
I’ve even created this little animated gif to illustrate the process
Benjamin Lehman is a commercial photographer in the Canton, Akron, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio area.
I am a child of the 80's...
… which means I am direct product of that decade. I was never a big fan of 80’s Hair-Metal but I’ve always loved the imagery of that era. As we started to move away from analog and into digital’s earliest incarnations we all took a big step back in quality. People think of VHS as an analog medium, but unlike the homemade movies shot on film in the 60’s and 70’s – which were a true analog and very chemical-based affair – VHS was rendered to tape using electricity and other various pieces of digital wizardry. It’s part of this loss in quality that help define the 80’s within its time in history and also teaches us the concept of, ‘low-quality doesn’t always mean bad-quality’.
Also, the 80’s were a time of great exploration into the visual mediums. For me, there’s never been a time in my life where the movies were more over the top, more gory, more cheesy, more whatever. Sure, we all praise and award movies who work their messages in more subtle manners, but I think a lot of people can also appreciate how wonderful ‘blatant-and-unrepentant’ can be as well!
Enter Stranger Things; a new visual and story-telling trip down a cracked 80’s memory lane. It’s amazing to watching Stranger Things and see my childhood, bikes, clothes, and adventures right there on screen for me to relive. Okay, so my real life adventures at that age weren’t quite as surreal, but they were certainly just as grand within my imagination.
It’s truly an amazing show and it has captured a lot of people’s interest. One such couple, some family friends of mine, have two daughters who they watch the show with. When their oldest daughter shaved and donated her hair to Saint Baldricks, they realized she was a complete doppelganger for one of the TV show’s main protagonists – Eleven. So much so that she was being stopped in the street and people would take pictures of her and follow her around, convinced she was Millie Bobby Brown.
So, we decided to capitalize on this and do a fun Stranger Things photo shoot! They were in charge of the wardrobe, and I would find the right location. For that location I chose the Molly Stark Sanatorium; an old tuberculosis hospital about 30 minutes out of town. This place is defunct, abandoned, and just oozes a whole new level of creepy, so, as you can imagine, it turned out to be the perfect location.
Above: Molly Stark Sanatorium
We showed up around 8pm in the evening. It’s mid-Spring at this point of the year so the sun sets around 8:30 pm. The forecast originally said it would be sunny, but rain had moved in earlier throughout the day and now it was overcast – which wasn’t a problem since we were taking a potentially moody photo. The only impact the cloud cover had on the location was that I instantly lost about 2 stops of light as the sun was setting behind a large blanket of clouds.
Because I would have to expose a little longer to compensate for the darkness (I don’t like to bump up the ISO unless absolutely necessary) I set the camera up on my tripod after scouted the location for the right angle. Using the tripod means I can have a slower shutter speed and still retain a sharp photo. Next I hustled to put up one 32 inch octa on a large light stand. The light was about 12 feet up and about 12 feet away and 45 degrees off center from the subject because I wanted to give the lighting more of a moonlight glow by the time it reaches our model. I then took a second light and positioned that opposite of the main light. It was much lower, with a 7 inch reflector on a bare bulb. I pointed the light so it would light her dark side with a little fill as well as light the bottom of the tree branches to help them retain a little detail from the shadows. Once we had the lights in place it was just a matter of getting the pose right and taking some pictures. To the right is one of the pictures we chose, straight out of the camera.
If you remember what I said at the start of this article, the 80’s are all about the lo-fi elements. This picture is ok as-is, but it doesn’t match either the spirit of the show, or the aesthetic of the decade it’s supposed to take place in – so there’s some work to do!
First thing I did was mess around with the RGB curves in Adobe Lightroom to flatten the dynamic range. I also de-saturated the image and boosted the blues in the shadows. Next, I took the photo into After Effects (yes, the video compositing program) and added in the fog and the light streaks for the lantern.
After Effects is, at it’s heart, an amazing piece of compositing software that does a lot of stuff, dare I say, better than Photoshop. If it’s not a part of your workflow, you should investigate it’s potential! Once I am done there I exported the file into Adobe Photoshop where I made a few final adjustments to color as well as any last tweaks.
Overall most of the color tweaks are done with curves adjustments and I use them throughout the process within all of the various programs I mentioned here. One thing that’s hard to explain is knowing where you should move from one program to the next. For this image, I worked in Lightroom until I had the base color correction in place. I then moved to After Effects to add in the fog and light flares because I know those processes are fairly easy for that program to produce. Photoshop is usually the last step because it’s great for the small details and final color correction.
Here’s the final image
Benjamin Lehman is a Commercial Photographer in the Canton, Akron, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio Area.
A Day in Rememberance
A lot of my time and efforts are spent in support of a non-profit I helped co-found called Warrior Beat. Warrior Beat’s mission is to provide therapeutic drumming to military veterans who suffer from PTSD, Anxiety, or other mental and physical ailments.
It’s given me a chance to meet some really wonderful people and has allowed me to bring the arts (something that is dear to me) into the lives of people who can benefit from it.
Here are a few photos from a few of the events I attended in observance of Memorial Day, 2017.