Living in the moment: It is the basis of a many philosophical movements and embraced by almost every spiritual practice. It is both simplistic and complex in concept; living in the moment is about just being. Being fully present in every situation, body, mind, and soul, so that you experience everything you do totally and absolutely. In those moments when you engage yourself completely, nothing in the future exists – and nothing in the past is holding you back. While it might be a challenge to always be present, you can start small. Be aware of your surroundings. Notice the color of flowers, the scent of rain, even a leaf on the sidewalk. Pay attention to what is happening at every moment, but don’t fight what is. After all, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway. By simply accepting each moment as if you have chosen it, you’ll be surprised at what the day has to offer you.
Photographers tend to try to exercise this with every shot they take, watching the scene, gauging the light, composing the image,and most importantly slowing down and enjoying the moment. It is amazing what happens when you forcibly slow down the shooting process and take some time to breathe – sometimes using a tripod helps, even though you may not need one. One has to lug it around, set it up, make adjustments….and in the mean time, the vision for the shot formulates… slowly. The image today was taken at Dog Beach in Del Mar, California. This is the only beach where people can take their canine buddies to play in the sand and the surf. Using a 70-200mm f2.8 Nikkor lens and shooting wide open (full aperture) allowed us a discreet distance to our subject and her friend and at the same time gave a delicious blur to the background. Shooting wide open is fantastic for portraits or other subjects where you don’t want the main subject to be distracted by a busy background. There is a tranquility to this shot as the puppy watches the action on the beach from a safe spot.
Serenity means maintaining a sense of inner peace even in difficult situations. We gain serenity by accepting the things we cannot change and focusing our energy where we can make a difference. Fear, anger or desire can create a sense of urgency that triggers us to react impulsively. When this happens, we risk undermining our goals, damaging relationships–even violating our deepest values. By contrast, when we cultivate serenity, we don’t fear our emotions, but we do keep them in balance. We govern ourselves rather than being ruled by external circumstances and our feelings about them. Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment .
This was shot mid-morning from The Embarcadero in San Fransisco. The Nikon D90 equipped with a wide-angle lens and polarizing filter was stabilized by hand against a sturdy post. Ordinarily a tri-pod would be used along with a remote shutter release and mirror lock-up to avoid camera shake. What struck me this morning was the calmness of the vista, smell of the ocean…and how quiet everything was. In the distance, the fog was burning off the bay which eventually exposed Alcatraz.
If you’re like me, at the end of the day you’re tired, not looking for a fight, but willing to stand your ground…just like with this modern and irritating verbal crutch. It somehow indicates closure or synopsis, and is used by people who are incapable of finishing a sentence without incorporating at least one tired cliché. It’s hard to escape it. You hear it in meetings, in dinner conversation and, of course, all over the radio and TV.
Another day of the conference and one of the things that most love watching in Hawaii is how the waves “roll” over… they are quite beautiful, peaceful and you can honestly just sit & watch them all day long. This shot was again taken in Maui by Erik, and he used the trusty Nikon D7000 mounted on a sturdy Manfrotto Tripod. The silky texture of the in and outrush of the waves was achieved using a slow shutter speed. Although the light was quite harsh at the time, he screwed on a variable Neutral Density Filter to the lens which cut down on the available light to the sensor, allowing a slow shutter. For me, I love the colors that are coming through – just beautiful. Drop us a note if you would like to understand a bit more about neutral Density Filters and all the awesome things they allow your creative vision to attain.
While were preparing some of our gear for a Photoshoot, we broke out some our old Medium Format Film Cameras, blew off some dust and admired the quality of the construction and how great they feel in the hand. Lurking in the background is our trusty digital Nikon D7000 and in the front we have a Mamiya C3 and Mamiya 645. The C3 was from my Father’s early years as a Photographer in the 50s and 60s. He showed up one day with this baby and proudly showed it to my Mom. Even at this time, the C3 was not cheap and likely cost several weeks wages. Mom was not pleased and instituted a “Zone of Silence” which according to rumors lasted several weeks! Same thing when he brought home a 12 gauge shotgun, but that is a different story!
The Mamiya 645 is not the most expensive of their line, but a sturdy workhorse. There is nothing fancy about this camera, it does have an internal light meter, but there are no “Presets” or Automatic Settings. These types of cameras really teach you Manual Operation, and being film, you really have to think about what it is you are trying to achieve, have confidence in your mastery of light and perform a “first time right” shot. There is no instant preview which we are now used to with digital cameras. We almost always shoot digital in Manual Mode, just because of our training with gear such as this – take the plunge and put your camera on Manual and experiment. At least you won’t need to wait a week for the proofs to come back from The Lab!
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Happy Shooting, Kathleen and Erik
This behind the scenes shot demonstrates the gear involved with a shoot. Here we wanted to conserve the Rembrandt Light on our model and get High Key Back Light. The concept was to get a bit Hollywood into the shot – like Runway Photographers. The background flare comes from a bank of portable Speedlights. The main light is from a large soft box. To get the Rembrandt Lighting one only needs to direct the model’s nose position to look to or away from the light. Here is a shot of the setup.
Studio set ups do not need to be expensive or overly complex. One does not need to invest hundreds of dollars for Nikon or Cannon TTL Sppedlights – you can buy older models for a fraction of the price and not have to worry about when you drop them. We have broken several expensive Nikon SB600 Speedlights through incidental damage. An old Vivitar does the job just as well. The only other tools one needs is some light stands, perhaps a few light modifiers like umbrellas and most importantly, radio triggers to control the lights. If you shop around, all of this gear is really not that expensive.
The fun part is learning how all of this works with your camera, lots of trial and error and learning to see the light.
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At first I thought there was an antenna farm on the pier, but closer examination with a 200mm Nikkor, Fishermen! (Duh). Simple composition after the sun had set, liking the contrast with the pastel sky.
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