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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
A client of mine recently asked for a custom sized panoramic print for his dental office reception area. The images below are the options I provided, taking into consideration his furniture and other decor. He decided on the Marathon Key Sunrise Panoramic, but I’ll make the rest of these available for purchase as well, just click on the images below. As a side note, yes… I do take requests and I do custom orders! If you’re interested in my work and would like something customized, just let me know.
Good news! Fine Art Metal Prints are now available for order direct from this site! This amazing product is created by infusing dyes into a polymer coating that is heat transferred onto a 1/16th inch thick aluminum sheet. This process makes the print durable, scratch resistant, and water proof, with an archival value of well over 100 years. In addition to the long lasting print, this process and material really makes images pop. The colors are extraordinarily vibrant and the depth of the coating gives photos a luminous quality that no paper print can achieve.
In other news, I’ve also added seven new frame options for custom framed fine art prints. These include economy metal frames in Black, Gunmetal, Frosted Silver, and White, as well as wood frames in Black, Black Walnut, Canadian Walnut, American Maple, and White. I will also soon add premium handcrafted environmentally friendly bamboo frames as an option.
I’ve been trying to go through my collection of images to add new work to the site. The first batch in that effort is a bunch of macro photos of Butterflies and other Bugs, as well as Flower macros and other Close-Up Stuff. I’ll be adding much more to each of those galleries shortly. Here’s a teaser of what you can find in the galleries:
So… how does one go about shooting images like these? For outdoor shots of flowers and bugs, I travel light and low tech. Bugs move around a lot, and I don’t have the patience to set up a tripod and wait for them. Most of the butterfly photos were taken at Brookfield Zoo, during the summer when the butterfly exhibit was going on. There are plenty of subjects flying around in a natural environment with plenty of flowers to sit on. I approach slowly, shooting while getting closer and closer. That way, if they fly off I at least have something. It’s important to stop down to a small aperture to get as much depth of field as possible, since macro shooting results in very shallow DOF. Flowers are much easier because they don’t fly away, just watch out for wind.
What about gear? While a macro lens isn’t necessary, it sure does help. A cheap way to go is to start with a set of Kenko extension tubes. These work by increasing the distance between the sensor and the back of the lens, allowing closer focusing. I’m currently shooting with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens. It’s a fantastic combination for macro shooting, but also makes for a great portrait setup.
As you may or may not know, I sell my photography though FineArtAmerica.com, a trusted source for high quality art prints (that some of you already have on your walls, thank you!).
This month, they’re running a contest to select 5 images to feature in an upcoming TV commercial. There are two rounds to this contest – the first round is just a matter of getting at least 250 votes. The 2nd round is juried. The first round is where I can use your help!
If all of you could just visit each of the links below, and click the “Vote for this image” button, I would have enough votes to progress to the next round. All you have to do is log into the site with Facebook. They don’t save your information or require you to create an account, they just want to make sure you’re not a fake voter. So who wants to help me out? 🙂
Here are my three submissions:
Thanks in advance!!
Spring has sprung all around us, a great time to break out the camera and take some pictures. In my case, it gives me a chance to prove my new Canon 5D Mark III was worth the money. I purchased the kit with the EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens to replace my trusty old 28-135mm lens. So far, I have to say I’m very pleased. There have been some complaints from certain users about the new AF system, but I believe most of those are unwarranted, and can be chalked up to users not reading the manual. This new AF system is amazingly fast and accurate, in many lighting conditions. I’m still testing other aspects of the camera, but I can safely say mine is not going back to the store. Here are a few images from around the garden.