Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grand Opening of Southern Maryland Photography by Craig Corl

Southern Maryland Photography Title
Recently I asked you to stay tuned for a big announcement.  Well, here it is!  I have just launched a new website dedicated to selling my photography, “Southern Maryland Photography by Craig Corl.”  This site is a photography gallery featuring some beautiful landscapes and seascapes from Southern Maryland.
For those of you who live in Southern Maryland, you will likely recognize many of these scenes and will hopefully appreciate my interpretation of this picturesque area.  Most importantly, these compelling scenes are now easily accessible and a cinch to purchase directly from the gallery.
The site is intentionally uncluttered, easy to navigate, and focused on the photography rather than flashy distractions.  I like to think of it in terms of a physical gallery set up to highlight the art without the visual temptations that confuse or draw one’s attention from what is truly important.
While the future is uncertain by definition, my intent is to launch additional galleries with a similar clearly defined focus as “Southern Maryland Photography” prospers and is able to fund the creation of new galleries.  In other words, I appreciate your support in growing a community of galleries.  My hope is to bring beautiful, relevant, and meaningful art to you at an affordable price.
Have fun, and go make some great photography!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Photography as Art Therapy

Lincoln HDR
I have not been posting at my normal or desired pace over the last month due to a family medical emergency.  I certainly could have kept pace given the amount of idle time I had at my disposal waiting in doctor’s offices and hospital rooms, but it was a bit difficult to focus.  Rather, I spent this substantial waiting time informing friends and relatives of current events, and post processing photographs.
Memorial Bridge HDR
The silver lining to this dark cloud  came in three forms.  Most importantly my wife will be better off than before.  Second, I was finally able to close out processing of photos from 2009.  Yes, I am that far behind.  Processing photos so distant in time from the moment they were taken has an added benefit that I will talk about further in a future post.  Finally, I was given the gift of having a productive diversion (processing the photos) as I faced the treatment my wife was enduring.  Hence the subject of this post.
Jefferson Cloud Reflections
I know nothing of art therapy.  I have not researched the principals or application of art therapy.  However, I can tell you of my experience without bias of knowledge of the discipline.  During the extended periods of waiting, or sitting by my wife’s bedside while she was passing from consciousness to sleep, I played with my photographs.  I found it to be much more than simply a diversion.
Lincoln HDR BW
As I selected, discarded, and processed the photos I was transformed to a better state of mind.  I was viewing beautiful images and others that had the potential to be special.  As I worked through these photographs, pleasant and soothing emotions emerged.  This was a real gift.
Shenandoah National Park-2-2
By nature I am an introspective person.  I would not be surprised if this were the case for many of the people who pursue the art of photography.  Reflecting on the manner in which I processed the photos during this recent period proved interesting.  The photos featured in this post were all processed during this period of waiting and wondering.  As I look at them now, I see a darker mood.  I would guess there is a relationship between my experience and my choice in post processing.
Shenandoah National Park-9-2
Although I do not have the words to describe it, I found my photography to be much more than a diversion.  It was a creative release and it supported me by introducing and encouraging positive thoughts and beautiful images.
The fog in Shenandoah National Park
Thank you for enduring my completely unstructured and possibly irrelevant thoughts on the subject of art therapy.  I can tell you that photography added a wonderfully positive moment to a very stressful situation.
Have fun, and go make some great photography.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Black and White HDR Photography with a Lensbaby


A while back I had the idea of combining several of the latest technologies at my disposal to create a unique photograph.  The title photograph in this post is the result.  It combines HDR photography, a Lensbaby, and processing the photograph in black and white.  Any one of these approaches standing on their own is common place.  If you were to Google any one of these, you would get millions of results.  However, using HDR for b/w photography is not as common as color photography, and applying HDR to Lensbaby photography is even more rare.

While I am confident that plenty of people have combined the three elements, it is not a regular practice.  So here you go – an example of a unique combination of technology in photography.  The point of this exercise is to demonstrate just one of the endless combinations we have at our disposal to express our creativity.  There remains countless other possibilities for us to experiment with photography and our creativity. 

If you ever feel you are hitting a rut, just explore.

Have fun and go make some great photography.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Panning to Capture Motion


I recently posted an entry “Deepening Understanding in a Blur” which argued against the relentless pursuit of tack sharp images.  I also talked about the importance of intentionally adding blur to emphasize motion or a sense of energy.  In this post, I will give you two methods to achieve this sense of motion and offer some examples.

Fast Landing

As the title of this post states, panning is one of the methods you can use to blur portions of the image and emphasize a sense of motion.  This technique takes some practice although the concept is simple.  In the examples here, the planes were passing by (either landing/launching, or doing a low altitude fly-by) and I rotated (panned) along with the movement of the plane and made the shot.  If done precisely, meaning you match the rate of your camera rotation exactly with that of your subject, you can get a very sharp subject and a blurred or streak filled background.

Steaking Fast

People who first try this technique are often frustrated because they are unable to get the subject as sharp as they would like.  Here are two recommendations:

1.  Pick one of the focusing pints on your view finder and try to keep that targeted to a specific point on your subject.  For example, in the following photo I chose one of the focus points and pinned it to the pilot in the orange flight suit.  Point to point targeting for a panning shot is more accurate than trying to see the “whole picture” and keeping the subject aligned.

2.  Practice, practice, practice.  No worries – it will not take long to perfect this technique.

The degree to which you want the subject in clear focus is up to you.  As you can see from these photos, there is a range from very sharp to very blurred.  I would suggest that the amount of blur in the subject is not indicative of the quality of the photograph – the level of blur in the subject simply presents a different feel a suggestion of speed.  It really depends on the story you are trying to tell.  The two adjoining photographs present a good comparison.  The biplane (above) appears to be moving much faster than the auto-gyro (below).  The people in the foreground further enhance this sense of speed.

Gyro Fly by

The second method to introduce a sense of motion is by using a slower shutter speed.  This is quite important when shooting things that have rotating parts such as wheels on race cars or motorcycles, and propellers on aircraft.  If you were to use a high shutter speed and “stop” the wheels or the propellers, the result could appear as a less interesting static display, or even awkwardly unnatural like that of a helicopter in mid air with the rotors still.

23 Taxi

The spinning propellers on these two aircraft photos add more energy and interest to the shots than a still prop.  This is a small consideration that makes a world of difference in the final product.


The photos featured in this entry were taken at the Front Royal/Warren County, Virginia airport.

Have fun and go make some great photography.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Southern Maryland Landscapes

Big Sun
This past weekend I was out fulfilling my normal routine of early morning photography and made the photographs featured in this post.  As I was processing them (all HDR processed in Photomatix Pro and Lightroom) I realized that over the past few years I have accumulated a pretty extensive portfolio of Sounthern Maryland Photography.  At the same time, I noted that most of my photography sales have come from people interested in scenes of Southern Maryland.
Boat on Sain Mary's
Sales and portfolio make for a happy coincidence that encourages me to set up a web gallery dedicated to Southern Maryland Photography.  For some time I have intended to establish a web gallery but have not found the time.  I have finally decided to make the time.
Route 4 Barn
Stay tuned for a forthcoming announcement of the “Southern Maryland Photography by Craig Corl” web gallery launch.  And now that I have told you about it, I have even further motivation to make it happen, and get it done soon.
By the way, the photographs featured here were all taken with my 50mm f/1.8 II – sticking with my committed relationship advice (click the “50mm” tag at the right for more on this).
Have fun and go make some great photography.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

More Experimenting with Fireworks Photography

Labor Day Fireworks

I have wonderful neighbors that look for any excuse to launch fireworks.  This being Labor Day weekend seemed to be one of those perfect excuses.  No complaints on my part – they are always entertaining, and another opportunity for me to experiment further with photography.

Labor Day Fireworks-2

My experimentation comprised two components; 1) rather than my normal choice of a wide angle lens (17-40 would be my natural choice, or 24-105 if I were further away), I stuck with my committed relationship to my 50mm, and 2) rather than stick to my recommendation of a 5 – 8 second exposure (see my recommendations for shooting fireworks - “Independence Day Fireworks”), I extended the exposures to 30 seconds.  All of the photographs in this post were shot with my Canon 50mm f/1.8 II at ISO 200, f/5.6 and 30 seconds.

Labor Day Fireworks-3

As is normally the case, I was happy with the use of the 50mm.  Nice sharp shots even with the long exposures.  However, I did not have enough room to get the shots I wanted and keep all of the bursts in the frame.  A wide angle is certainly a better choice when you are up close and personal with the display.

Labor Day Fireworks-4

I was pleased with the results of the longer exposure.  By extending the exposure time, I was able to draw more color and definition from the background and introduce a strong gradient in the sky which in turn highlighted the horizon.  This combination provides greater context for the fireworks.

Have fun, and go make some great photography.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sticking with the 50mm

Saint George's Island Crab Boats-1

In a couple of previous posts (Improving Your Photography Through a Committed Relationship, and Taking my own Advice – Commitment to 50mm) I recommended snapping on a fixed focal length (prime) lens, and challenge yourself to develop a committed relationship to that lens.  I continue my committed relationship with the 50mm and here are a few results.  Since my first post on this subject, my 50mm has not come off the camera.

Seagull on Piling Saint George's Island

These photographs were made at one of my favorite locations and favorite times.  The location is the Saint George’s Island in Saint Mary’s County Maryland, and the time was just after sunrise.  One hour either side of sunrise and sunset supply the most interesting light of the day.  These photographs came a little outside that one hour window, but still very nice light.

Saint George's Island Crab Boats-2

One of the nice things the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II brings to these photographs is super sharpness.  While you can get some sense of this via these blog sized photos, the full resolution versions are sufficiently sharp that they encourage you to explore all the details in the composition.  Several times I have stated that pursuit of perfect focus and sharpness is an unnecessary endeavor.  However, in the right context an extreme level of detail adds a great deal to the photograph.  The first and third photograph in this post are good examples.  In the second shot, the silhouette of the seagull on the piling, it is not an important aspect.

Have fun and go make some great photography.