The other day I was flying back home to Chicago from a short trip to Raleigh, NC. As we approached the city from the east, all I could see below me was a white cloud carpet. However, as I always do when flying into Chicago, I pulled out my new Canon G7x camera to see if I could shoot anything interesting. Dropping in through the clouds exposed a cold, dull, gray city skyline. It was late in the afternoon, and the winter sun was beginning to cast an orange glow on the clearer horizon. As we continued west towards O’Hare airport, the waning light briefly poked through the gloom to reveal its warm rays over the frozen city. I had just a few seconds to capture this before the light disappeared. Just another example of why it’s great to keep a camera handy.
In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Hubble has revisited the famous “Pillars of Creation”, providing astronomers with a sharper and wider view than ever before. The pillars (a region of the Eagle Nebula, or M16) have been photographed in near-infrared light as well as visible light. The infrared view transforms the pillars into eerie, wispy silhouettes seen against a background of myriad stars. That’s because the infrared light penetrates much of the gas and dust, except for the densest regions of the pillars. Newborn stars can be seen hidden away inside the pillars. The new images are being unveiled at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, Washington (read full release).
Available immediately are the largest fine art prints yet of these beautiful images, in both square and tall crop ratios. These would look amazing as metal or canvas prints. Check them out below.
Being an engineer, and having a natural draw towards science, I have always been fascinated with the planets, outer space, the Universe and all its secrets. The immensity of it all is just staggering, and hard to comprehend for just about everyone. This immensity is a reminder of how small and insignificant we mere humans are. Take for example the following scale diagram of our Solar System, and how puny the Earth is next to our (small) Sun:
Now let’s compare our little sun to one of the biggest stars currently known, VY Canis Majoris, which is 1,000,000 times bigger!
Starting to feel small now? Well, the purpose of this post isn’t to make you feel insignificant. It’s to point out the beauty and wonder in the natural universe, and our ability to see and photograph it. Below are just a few of my favorite images created by NASA/ESA/JPL with various ground and space telescopes, including Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer. I’ve spent time modifying each of these images, by cleaning up stitching artifacts and enhancing tones and colors, while leaving the science of the image intact. These images make amazing pieces of abstract fine art, especially when printed as large metal or acrylic prints.
This week, GoPro chose one of my images as their Photo of the Day!
That’s exciting because it gives me additional exposure online, and because GoPro is well known for adventure seekers (that’s me!). This was fun to shoot for obvious reasons. Flying my Airborne XT912 trike (powered hang glider) around Illinois is so freeing, it’s like riding a motorcycle in the air. I have some video from flying that I hope to edit and post on youtube shortly.
Stay tuned for more about trike flying…
Last month, we ran our first ever giveaway contest. Thanks to everyone who signed up, we now have a winner. Congratulations to Facebook fan Vicki S. for being selected at random and winning a free 16×24 inch print. She chose this beautiful macro photograph of Autumn Maple Leaves to fashionably adorn her wall. Want to know about future promotions? Just Like my Facebook page or subscribe to my newsletter.
A Guide to Buying Fine Art Photography Online
I often get asked if I have my work hanging in a gallery for sale. A physical building that you can walk into and touch… well, no. But in a sense, I have my work on display in the largest art gallery in the world – The Internet. By only having an online presence, I’m able to display all of my photography for sale, without limits. Also, since I offer prints on demand, and don’t have to pay rent for a physical space, I can afford to offer my work at a reasonable price. So for those that aren’t accustomed to buying art online, here’s a quick guide to make you more comfortable.
Visit Reputable Art Sales Websites
Decorating your home or office is a very personal venture, everyone has different tastes and styles. The first step in the art buying process is to find a site that has a wide variety of art prints for sale that also has a well established satisfied customer base. At the time of this writing, 3scape.com has over 6000 images to choose from. Fine Art America is another site with a huge variety of art, with thousands of satisfied customers. Both of these sites use professional printing and framing companies, and the highest quality archival papers and canvases. This means you’ll get consistent, long lasting color or black and white prints every time. Framed prints are mounted and assembled using custom cut high grade materials, right here in the USA. If you’re shopping on other artists websites, ask about their printing process and materials. Of course, you can probably find “cheap prints” out there, but you get what you pay for, and rest assured those prints will be poster quality reproductions that won’t stand the test of time.
Choose the Right Image
Art buyers are typically drawn to many different aspects of an image, depending on personal tastes, styles, or perhaps even artistic training. Likewise, most photographers have developed their own styles and techniques to incorporate colors, textures, and tones into scenes to convey some emotional response or mood. So how do the two match up? First, take a look at the space on your wall that needs art. Consider the style of the room, the wall color, and other decor. Wider spaces may need a horizontal or panoramic print, while a vertical piece would work better for narrow walls. The rest is a matter of personal preference – color or black and white; scenic landscape or urban scene; perhaps an abstract? If you’re really not sure, ask the artist! I’ve helped clients choose the perfect print for their space, and even mocked up options using photos of a room or office space.
Caring for Your Photographic Art Prints
Buying fine art prints is an investment that adds beauty to your home, office, or work place. As such, proper care must be taken to ensure your prints last a long time. Paper prints should be properly mounted and framed (we can do that for you). Matting a paper print adds to visual appeal and further protects it by spacing it from the glass or acrylic glazing. If you’re looking for prints for your bathroom or other humid place, consider metal prints which are durable and water resistant. All prints should be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent fading.
Fine art prints continue to increase in popularity and make for beautiful works of art in your home, and now online galleries make it possible to acquire the perfect image. Still not sure? Contact me and we can chat about hanging the right art piece on your wall. Or, if you’re ready to start shopping, please check out my Best Sellers, or visit my Fine Art Portfolio site.
Does the job for smaller cameras
Pros: Good Value, Locks In Tight, Compact
Best Uses: Video, Travel
Nice little monopod, folds up smaller than most. Sturdy construction with good clips to hold sections in place. The wrist strap is nice as well. The bottom most section is a bit small, so may wobble in use, if you don’t need the extra height, might want to skip extending the last section. Good for small, light SLR’s or PnS, not quite sturdy enough for bigger heavier cameras.
I recently had the opportunity to take a helicopter flight over the awesome skyline of downtown Chicago. I met Chris Bachman of Bachman Aero at Schaumburg Regional Airport on a beautiful, albeit hazy summer morning. Since it was nice and warm, Chris had taken the doors off the helicopter so I have unobstructed access for my aerial photography. We took off around 8am and headed east towards I-290 better known as the Eisenhower Expressway (the Ike).
It didn’t take long for me to get that disappointed feeling in my gut, seeing the bright white haze that lay before me, shrouding the city from view. This of course, after several reschedules already due to weather. Alas, it would have to do… I’d have to make the best of this flight, if not for the photography, then at least for the thrill.
So off we went, heading east along the Ike as I happily snapped away at the sights below me. At Garfield Park we turned northeast, flying over Westinghouse College Prep, and Humboldt Park on our way to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.
From Wrigley Field, we headed east to Lake Michigan, then down along Lake Shore Drive, flying over the beautiful Chicago shoreline, beaches, and harbors.
Finally, we’ve reached downtown, starting with the Gold Coast, the historic John Hancock Building, and the Magnificent Mile. Continuing south, we circled around Navy Pier where I was able to capture this great panoramic.
Before heading back to the home airport, we spun around over the Loop, getting a close-up view of the Willis Tower Ledge (I still call it the Sears Tower), then zipped up and down the Chicago River for some great views of the Trump Tower. Heading back to the airport wasn’t a dull ride either, as any view from the air is a great one. I had a chance to also shoot the United Center, Chicago’s “interesting” West Side, and Medinah Golf Course and Country Club.
I spent a fantastic hour or so of flying around Chicago’s amazing urban scenery doing two of the things I love – flying and photography. It’s an unbelievable feeling flying over the city with the doors off a helicopter, up close and personal. For the full set of photos, please see my gallery: Chicago Aerial Photography.
Aerial Photography Tips
So, now that I’ve inspired you and you’re itching to get in the air to do some of your own aerial photography, let me share some tips with you.
1. Plan ahead! Research the places and viewpoints that you’d like to shoot, and discuss them ahead of time with your pilot. If he’s flexible and you’re the only passenger, he should be able to get you the shots you’re hoping for.
2. Plan ahead! Yes, more planning… This time, in regards to weather. Most of the time, you’ll have to book your flight well in advance, so planning for weather isn’t always possible. Also, weather changes. As I described above, I thought I was going on a nice clear morning based on the weather forecasts, but it turned out to be hazy. Do your best to study the forecasts and conditions a few days in advance, and try to anticipate the best conditions. Around cities, haze is an unfortunate reality. Try using a circular polarizer to cut through some of the haze, and shoot with the sun behind you.
3. Time of day. As with most photography, the best time of day to shoot is early morning or evening. With the sun lower on the horizon, you’ll get more depth and texture in your images due to the shadows that the sun will cast on buildings (or rural features if you’re not in the city). Mid-day light will most certainly result in flat looking images.
4. What gear to use? I currently shoot with a Canon 5D MkIII and for this shoot I used my Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens. If you’re in a helicopter, you’ll want a good quality, medium range zoom lens to give you the flexibility to shoot frame-filling close-ups or wide angle scenics. Helicopters can fly lower and closer to everything, so you may not need a long zoom. If you’re in an airplane, however, then something like a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto zoom lens may be more useful. What about a lens hood? Leave it at home! On the ground a lens hood is handy for blocking stray light, but in a helicopter with the window open or the doors off, it’ll just be a scoop for the wind to catch. At worst, it’ll snap right off the lens and go flying.
5. How about settings? One of the big concerns with aerial photography is vibration from the engine and motion blur from flying through the air at 60-120kts. So how is it possible to get sharp images in the air? First, set your camera to Shutter Priority mode (Tv or S), and use a high shutter speed. Typically, 1/500th to 1/800th is enough to freeze motion. Depending on the brightness of the sun at the time, you’ll probably have to adjust the ISO setting as well. If you try to shoot and the aperture value starts blinking, chances are you have to bump up the ISO. 400-800 should do it, and still produce nice clean images with a camera like the Canon 5D. Point-and-shoot cameras suffer at higher ISO, so if you have to, try renting a newer Digital SLR for the shoot. The last thing that will help with vibration is Image Stabilization (IS or VR). Many better DLSR zoom lenses include this feature, so turn it on for best results.
6. Anything else? If possible, ask if the doors can be taken off or the window opened. Shooting through glass sucks, and will result in low-contrast images, reflections, blur, and bugs! This also means it’ll be windy, so strap yourself and your gear in really well. Your pockets should be empty or zipped so nothing flies away, and no gear should be loose. Safety first! Dress appropriately, it may get chilly up there but skip the hoodie (again, wind). Lastly, if you’re prone to motion sickness, take some pills or use pressure point wrist bands.
Well, I think that’s about all for this post. I hope it was informative and enjoyable… if you’d like to know when I update my blog or post new images, please sign up for my newsletter using my signup form at the top of the page! If you have any comments, I’d love to hear from you.
The winter thaw is finally beginning, and that puts me in a good mood! So from today (3/10/2014) until 5pm on 3/15/2014, I’m offering the following abstract images at a special promotional price. My professional print company gets standard size canvases at a discount, so I can pass that on to my customers. These amazing images are from NASA’s Hubble Telescope, and make for great abstract artwork for your walls. Check my gallery for more incredible outer space images.
It’s Friday, it’s mid-April, and I just feel like it. So here’s a great promotion running for the next several days (while supplies last). I get a special discount on standard size canvas prints, so I would like to pass that special print on to my fans and customers. Here are the current limited time promotions – 11×14 canvas prints (ready to hang) for only $60 (normally $99). Only 20 of each available, so hurry!
Promotion Expired 4/17/2013… Thank you buyers!