“Photo Tourism” in Lisbon, Portugal, March 23rd-30th, 2019

We are staying at the Tesouro da Baixa Boutique Guesthouse in Lisbon!

TICKETS FOR THIS EVENT ARE AVAILABLE NOW! REMEMBER – THE FEE IS FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHY SESSIONS ONLY.

AIR FARE AND HOTEL FEES ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. 

This is a workshop I call “Photo Tourism”. The idea is to go on the vacation you are already going on but go with a professional photographer (that would be me!) and learn how to take better photos as well.

We all carry a camera around with us – whether it’s on our phones or a dedicated device. But many people don’t know what makes for a good/great photo. They just click away and “hope it comes out”.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could go some place and have a professional instructor teach you how to take good pictures and be at your beck and call to help you capture the shots you see – no matter what kind of camera you have?

Wouldn’t it be great to come back from vacation and have people actually *want* to see your vacation photos? Or to have images you can proudly have printed out and displayed on your walls or to give as gifts to family and friends?

Wouldn’t it be great to go to a beautiful place and learn, not only how to take pictures of that place, but to gain knowledge that will help you with every photo you take afterwards?

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Our hotel in Lisbon!

Thanks to Rui of the Reservations Department at the Tesouro da Baixa Boutique Guesthouse in Lisbon, we can now announce we’ve got a hotel base for our “photo tourism workshop” in Lisbon, Portugal!

(I love those lamps on the ceiling!)

One of the issues I’ve had finding a suitable location is the European habit of offering non-refundable rates. The Tesouro da Baixa is offering us their great non-refundable rates but with a very flexible cancellation policy!

The other thing that was important to me was that whatever hotel we chose was centrally located and the Tesouro da Baixa is definitely that. It’s only a 5 minute walk from the Santa Justa Lift, less than ten minutes from the Convento do Carmo and 15 minutes away from the Castelo de S. Jorge, among other attractions including over a dozen bars and restaurants within a couple of blocks!

Here’s how to take advantage of this great offer.

1) Go to this URL. If the language is Portugese, click on the UK flag at the top of the page to switch to English.

2) Choose your arrival date and the number of nights stay (workshop will be from March 23rd to March 30th, 2019).

3) In the “Choose the desired city” field, choose “Lisbon”.

4) In the “Choose the desired house” field, choose “Tesouro da Baixa – Lisbon”.

It will look like this:

5) Pick your room. Make sure it is one of the cheaper “Early Booking SPECIAL DISCOUNT – Non-Refundable” rooms. NOTE: ALL PRICES ARE IN EUROS. For reference, 100.00 Euros is approximately $116.00 US dollars.

6) Under each room description, you’ll see “Rooms”. Pick “1” and then the number of adults – prices are a little cheaper for just one adult in a room!

The hotel says:

Guests can choose the non-refundable rate to benefit from 10 % discount, with the following conditions:

A deposit of 20% and a credit card as a guarantee will be required upon booking and is refundable up to 30 days before arrival in case of cancellation;

The remaining 80% should be paid 7 days before arrival. There are no refunds after this.

In the comments’ section on our booking page, after filling in the details, guests should declare they are attending your workshop.

THIS LAST PART IS IMPORTANT. In order to be eligible for the 30 day cancellation policy, YOU MUST put Attending the Starting Point Photography Workshop in the comments section. That way, the hotel knows you are eligible for this special deal. You should also send me an email confirming your reservation for my records in case there are any issues going forward.

I hope you’ll agree this is a lovely hotel, a great location in a beautiful city, and a wonderful deal for our attendees. We are going to have a blast in Lisbon and you are going to learn a lot about photography and have fun doing it!

SEE YOU IN LISBON!

How One Earthquake Changed the Course of Human History

I’m really looking forward to exploring more of Lisbon’s incredible history.

How One Earthquake Changed the Course of Human History:

At its height, the Portuguese empire spanned four continents, with territory everywhere from Rio de Janeiro to Macau. The first global empire, Portugal’s mastery of the seas began in earnest in the 1400s, when the relatively small and isolated country sought to find new trade routes with Europe and the rest of the world. Its first major success came in 1488, when Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias rounded the southern tip of Africa. Ten years later, Vasco da Gama reached India. The ensuing centuries would witness Portuguese navigators establishing relations and trade with countries as far as Japan.

By the middle of the 18th century, Portugal’s capital of Lisbon was the fifth-most populous city in Europe, its port the third-busiest. It was one of, if not the, wealthiest cities in the world. It might still be, as Mark Molesky reveals in This Gulf of Fire: The Destruction of Lisbon, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason, if not for an unspeakable catastrophe in 1755 that would leave the city leveled, the empire crippled, and the course of Western civilization forever altered.

Why Lisbon?

I got an interesting email from someone that basically asked, “Why Lisbon? Why do this photography thing in Lisbon?”

Good question. There are several answers to the question but, primarily, it’s about light.

As I teach in my classes, photography is “capturing a moment in the life of light”. We don’t take pictures of dark – we take pictures of light. So, it makes sense to find scenes and images with great light. And there’s no doubt, the light in Lisbon is somehow magical.

Another reason is cost. Everyone who talks about Lisbon talks about how inexpensive it is. The joke is that, in Lisbon, “beer and wine are cheaper than bottled water”. It’s also a very historic city. I’m a big fan of European history and Lisbon is full of it.


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Australia!

Melissa and I (and Rory and Jasper!) were in Australia (Newcastle and Sydney) for most of December. We got (re)married and I got to meet some of her *amazing* family!

Click the image above to see the gallery on Flickr.

3 stupidly simple reasons why most people’s photography does not improve

“3 stupidly simple reasons why most people’s photography does not improve”

Interesting and pretty accurate list although, I’d add one more thing.

Granted, I’m biased but I’d add another reason why your photography doesn’t improve – lack of knowledge. Without learning how to take better images, you’re just hoping your “natural talent” will create them for you. But, by learning about your camera and all the “rules” and techniques of good photography, you can take your talent even further.

Photoshop Versus Lightroom: Which is Best for Beginners?

Photoshop Versus Lightroom: Which is Best for Beginners?

If you’re new to photography, you’re likely wondering how to post-process or edit your photos. There is a wide selection of photo editing software to choose from, but the two that you probably hear debated the most are Adobe Photoshop versus Lightroom. So what are the main differences and which program is best for beginners and for you? Read on for a basic overview!

I get this question all the time. My go-to answer is to tell students that Photoshop is a “pixel editor” while Lightroom is an “image editor”. I also tell them that, if you’re comfortable working in Photoshop, go ahead and edit in Photoshop. But, if you’re not, Lightroom has less of a learning curve and is an app dedicated to and for photographers.

But keep in mind, these are not the only two apps you can use to edit your images. Photos for Mac is free as is Snapheel for iOS and Android devices. I’m also testing for review the recently demoed at WWDC Serif Jabs’ Affinity Photo for the iPad.

After the Shoot!

I had a couple of people at Sunday’s Aperture Priority Shoot ask what I do after I get the images home. So I thought I’d write up the general process I use. This is not hard and fast or the “only” way to do things. It just happens to be the process I’ve developed. Feel free to adjust to your particular situation.

The first thing I do when I get home is to get the images *off* my camera. You never know when the camera card may go bad or your camera gets lost, stolen, damaged, etc. I put all the images into a folder on the desktop of my Mac. In my case, the folder will have the date of the images and a word or two about where the shoot was. So, for this particular shoot, my folder is called “170312_Bloedel”.

The next thing I do is back *that* folder up to an external drive just in case something happens to my computer or I delete or screw up working on an image. Now I have three backups of the original 325 images – camera card, computer desktop, and external HD.

Next comes the (brutal) “Culling of the Images”. It’s ugly but it needs to be done. 🙂

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is my image editor of choice. I important all the shots into a new catalog with the same name as the desktop folder – 170312_Bloedel. I then open the first image with my finger hovering over the “X” key – that’s the delete button.

Generally, unless you are a truly incredible photographer, at least half of your images will…..let’s just say….”not be good”. Delete those immediately. DO NOT think, “Oh, maybe I’ll come back to it” or ”maybe I’ll fix it later”. Trust me – YOU WON’T. If it’s not an appealing shot at first glance – if it’s poorly composed, out of focus, or just a “bad” photo – delete it right now. Don’t get attached to it.

BUT…

Make a mental note of *why* the photo isn’t a keeper. Maybe all your shots are blurry or from too far away or have some other issue. Learn from your bad photos the reasons why they are bad photos. Then delete them.

At my first culling pass, I went from 325 images down to 125. In Lightroom, I delete those photos, not just from the catalog but from the hard drive. Poof – they’re gone (but remember, I’ve still got two full backups of them). Then I walk away from the computer for a while – usually in a depression about how many crappy photos I’ve taken!

I come back to the Lightroom catalog for the second cull. This time, I’m looking at the images more critically. Is it in focus (I zoom in to make sure)? Does it “tell a story”? Is it a pleasing image? Is it properly composed, showing what I want to show? How much work will I have to do to “fix” it? After the second pass, I was down to only 25 images. I again delete the “bad” photos not just from the catalog but from the hard drive.

(Here’s where I am (probably) different from most of you. As a “professional photographer”, I want to “show off” my images to others, usually because I want them to hire me. 🙂 So I can’t “afford” to post bad photos. I need and want to show off only my very best efforts. So I tend to be hyper-critical of my shots and delete anything that doesn’t meet my (hopefully) high standards.)

Now that I’m down to a more manageable 25 photos to edit, I go through them a third time to see what processing I need to do to make them “perfect”. If I have to spend too much time (and the photos are just for me, not a client), then I delete the photo. I define “too much time” as anything more than a couple of minutes. If they are for a client, I’ll work extra hard to get what the client is looking for.

After all of this (lasting about 45 minutes, not including the break between the first and second cull), I was left with……eight photos.

That doesn’t sound like a lot but, looking at them, they are a good representation of what I was looking for on the shoot. So I’m OK with such a low “success” rate.

Finally, I go to my backups. I replace the backup on the external HD with the folder from the desktop. That way, I know the only images on the external HD are of the eight “good ones” from Lightroom. I also export the edited images out of Lightroom – one set for the web (so they are small resolution) and one high resolution set – both are exported to a folder inside the “170312_Bloedel” and named “170312_Bloedel_LowRez” and “170312_Bloedel_HighRez”.

I then upload both the sets to Flickr so I have another backup – but this time, in the cloud that, in theory, I can access any time, anywhere I’d like.

Last but not least, I then reformat the camera’s memory card to delete all of the original images and start the next shoot with a “fresh” card.

So, I start with 10GBs and 325 photos that get cut down to a little over 1GB and eight photos.

I hope this helps some of you and, as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment here or send me an email at shawn@StartingPointPhotography.com.

Keep shooting!

Nifty Fifties – Why I Love 50mm Prime Lenses

Nifty Fifties – Why I Love 50mm Prime Lenses

Before zoom lenses became the norm most cameras came with a 50mm lens as standard. Since then, the humble 50mm prime has fallen somewhat out of favour. Which is a shame, because 50mm prime lenses can give you high quality and versatility at a low price point. On an APS-C camera it’s one of my favourite focal lengths. Let’s take a look at why.

While I always caution beginners to not buy additional lenses until they are familiar with their camera and the lenses that came with it, I break my rule for the “Nifty Fifty“. As this article shows, it can be a great lens for a lot of photographers, beginner and advanced alike. It can be found fairly cheaply (but you get what you pay for) and can really open a lot of creative avenues for you. Plus, it teaches you how to “crop with your feet” and has much better low light capabilities than your kit lenses.

Reasons why you should love a cheap kit lens

Some reasons why you should love a cheap kit lens:

When you bought your first DSLR, you probably got it with a kit lens. These lenses are cheap, and not really top-notch quality. If you bought a prime or a high-end zoom later, you know a kit lens can’t beat it. However, there are still some reasons to use a kit lens. They may not always be the best choice, but they certainly have their purpose.

I tell my students to NOT buy a new lens when they buy their first, beginner DSLR. There’s no point. The kit lens is “good enough” for beginners until they learn how to use the camera and create great images with it. Only once you know what kind of photographer you are should you start looking to buy replacement lenses.

Improving Your Photos Without Buying More Gear

Improving Your Photos Without Buying More Gear:

If you want to take your photos to another level, camera equipment is a natural place to look. It’s a very tangible part of photography; we work with our gear constantly. In fact, new equipment often does help you capture certain photos more easily, or it improves the technical quality of the images you take. However, it’s easy to get swept away in this marketing message and forget that there are other, better ways to improve your photos — techniques that don’t require new equipment to put into practice, and tips that are applicable to every photographer.

I try to drill this into my students. One of the “traps” beginners fall into is thinking, “If I just had a better camera or lens, I’d take better pictures.” That’s true – IF you already know how to take good pictures. Not by accident or luck but by intention and design. It’s like, “I really like driving. I drive an automatic transmission car but if I buy a manual drive Ferrari, I’ll become a better driver!” Not how it works. 🙂

5 Pieces of Photography Gear to Considered for your First Upgrade

As a new photographer and/or maybe a gadget geek, it’s tempting to run to your local camera store and buy one of everything they have. But until you master the tools you already own, buying even more gear is a waste of money and a distraction from becoming a better photographer.

That being said, here are four things (I disagree with the writer’s assertion you “need” Number 4) that you should consider buying as a new photographer:

So you’ve been getting into this photography thing pretty seriously ever since you bought that “good” camera you wanted. It turns out that you really enjoy photography, and you think you’ll be doing it for a while. You want to know what cool camera gear is out there, and you know there’s a lot, but what should you get first?

When you’re just starting your photography journey, it’s intimidating how much gear there is and how much it costs. It’s obvious that some photos are impossible without certain gear, and sometimes it’s not obvious when gear has helped a photo.

I’ve been shooting and helping new photographers to get the most out of their gear for years, so I have a few suggestions for great first investments in photography to suit your varying interests and budget.

5 Pieces of Photography Gear to considered for your first upgrade

What do you think? Any of this gear seem more/less important to you?

Image vs Video

Which is better? A still image or a video?

Well, it’s an impossible question to answer. A lot of it comes down to personal preference. But, in some cases, the difference is stark and obvious.

Many of you may have seen this lovely photo of First Lady Michelle Obama give President George W. Bush a hug at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the weekend:

It’s a lovely photo, full of warmth, love and respect.

Today, a video from that same moment has been posted:

It’s a fascinating look at the differences in stance, emotion, feeling, result. Granted, our assumptions and knowledge of who these people are informs our opinions of the moment (would we feel differently if the two people involved were unknown to us?) but it’s still a very interesting example of the difference that can be had with a video vs a still image.

Welcome!

Welcome and thanks for visiting the site! I assume you’ve come to this page because you’ve heard about me from the great team at Finisterra Travel.

I am working with Finisterra to put on an amazing trip. They’ve arranged an exciting vacation to one of the prettiest, most interesting places in Europe – Portugal! My job is to help you learn how to capture images while on your vacation that you can be proud of, show to friends and family and even print off to create artwork in your own home.

DSC_9712 by ShawnKing

It doesn’t matter what camera you have – I will teach you how to create better, more memorable images regardless of whether you have a camera phone, a point and shoot, a mirrorless or a DSLR. You’ll learn how cameras work, how to see a scene better, and how to set your camera up to capture what you see.

While in Portugal, you’ll learn the basics of:
General travel photography tips and tricks
Specific camera tips and tricks
Street Photography
Landscape photography
Editing
Black and White shooting
Street photography
Sunrise/sunset shooting
Photo Critiques

There will be daily classes followed by hands-on shooting at various beautiful and historic locations in Portugal. And you’ll have plenty of time each day to wander around on your own (or hang out with me!) to see the sights, go shopping, visit museums, or just relax and do your own thing!

Strawberry_Best

If you are a fan of the Flipboard magazine app, check out the “Starting Point Photography In Portugal!” Flipboard magazine!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. My email address is shawn@StartingPointPhotography.com and I’m happy to answer any questions about the trip you may have.

I hope you can join us – I promise it will be a great trip full of fun and photography and you’ll come home knowing how to create better images on your next trip as well!

Our motto:

Taking pictures is easy.

Learning about photography is hard.

We want to make the latter as easy as the former.

We are Starting Point Photography.

Our mission is to help you

take better photographs with the camera you already have.

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Nikon D3400

In the market for a new or first Nikon? This was just announced:

“The D3400 is a 24.2MP DSLR that’s compact and lightweight and features SnapBridge connectivity to easily and quickly share images.”

Nikon D3400