The SpectraLight Photography Blog

The place to expand your knowledge and love of photography.
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Yep, I knew it would happen eventually. I’ve been waiting to be asked to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge but I never thought it would come from our Australian foreign exchange student from 24 years ago – Rebecca Freeman Haines! I asked her to do the ice bucket honors. She came all the way from Australia to be with us!

In this video, I weathered a bucket of ice water dumped over my head and then challenged my neighbors at Cypress Station in North Ridgeville and my co-workers at University Hospital’s Eye Institute Reading Centers to also support this worthy cause.

Watch the video to the end to see a surprise in my ice bucket.

Also included in this video are VERY COOL celebrity challenges from around the Internet including President Barack Obama, Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James, professional ice hockey player Paul Bissonnette, “The Besties” – Brittany and Brittani, Jimmy Fallon with Rob Riggle, Horatio Sanz, Steve Higgins and the Roots.

Please take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or make a donation to http://www.alsa.org/

 

Fourth of July fireworks get a new look with simple-to-use software that almost anyone can master in minutes! This photo was taken by North Ridgeville photographer, Mark Madere - a portrait and commercial photographer covering Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

Fourth of July fireworks get a new look with simple-to-use software that almost anyone can master in minutes! This photo was taken by North Ridgeville photographer, Mark Madere – a portrait and commercial photographer covering Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

For years I’ve been bored with photographing fireworks. Fighting the crowds to get a good spot, dealing with hot and humid July weather, bugs, crying children… the list goes on. I’d much rather stay home and chill-out with the Mrs. – UNTIL NOW!

I recently read an article by a photographer who captured some great fireworks photos. He gave the technical settings that he used for beautiful shots that were taken over a scenic lake. His photos inspired me to see if I could create images unlike any I’ve made before.

So I set out for the annual fireworks display in my town – North Ridgeville, Ohio. The weather was cool and comfortable for a July evening. I was able to stake out a spot by the lake where the fireworks would be launched. The bugs weren’t annoying either (I think they preferred the taste of those around me.) And the crying children? It’s amazing what ear plugs can mask out!

For 20+ minutes I shot photos with my Nikon D90 camera mounted to a tripod with exposures ranging from one to four seconds at f/11 at ISO 100. If you don’t have a clue about the settings I just covered – have no fear! It seems that anyone can get decent photos with just about any camera – even with smart phones. If you already have photos you wish to add some excitement to – read on!

When I loaded the photos onto my computer – I was UNDERwhelmed by what I had captured. They looked similar to the old, boring photos I’d taken in the past.

I played with some Photoshop filters to see if I could add some pizazz to the images but nothing really excited me. I then opened a photo in an inexpensive software program (Star Effects by Topaz Labs) that I’ve used to spice up some photos from previous travels.  The two photos in this article were created with just a couple mouse clicks using Star Effects.

Topaz Labs is a company that has created several easy-to-use photo effects programs that can be used without even reading the instruction manual – well, at least after the initial install. It has a simple user interface that will have you creating photo masterpieces in minutes.

I found myself immersed for hours in the software as I created countless variations of each image.

To see how easy Star Effects is to use, I created this short video. Let me know what you think with a comment on this article.

By-the-way, Topaz Labs has a 15% discount available if you purchase through this link: http://www.topazlabs.com/515.html. Just enter 15topaz at checkout.

Have fun!

Make a photo book about your favorite person, share it with us, and you might win up to $2,500!

Make a photo book about your favorite person, share it with us, and you might win up to $2,500!

(This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.)

Blurb wants to meet your favorite person and in turn you could win $2,500! All you have to do is make a book about a loved one filled with all sorts of kind words, creativity and insight, and if selected, you could win $2,500! For every book you make (there are seven different categories, so seven different chances to win) you will receive a 30% discount on the printed product. With so many special people in your life (Hint: Mother’s Day is coming!), why not make a book for a few of them! With that much love to share, everyone is a winner!

Go to Blurb to check out the details of the contest to see what the categories are and when the entries are due. The 30% discount on My Favorite books will be applied at checkout when you use the promo code: MYFAVORITE.

Have you ever made a photo book for someone you love? What was their reaction? Please share it with a comment!



 

Now that John Lanigan, the popular and sometimes controversial radio host/DJ has retired, I thought I’d share an awkward moment I had with him during an on-air visit to Cleveland radio station WMJI.

I was invited to appear on a COSE sponsored segment where member businesses try to stump the DJs with the type of business they own. After guessing that I owned a portrait studio, John Lanigan then asked if I did nude photos. To be clear – I DON’T do nude photos although I have done several glamour sessions over the years – all done in a tasteful fashion. Any way, my mind began to race as I began to sweat while I quickly formulated my response. How do you think I did? What would YOU have said? Please comment below!

Click here for the two minute interview on WMJI

Topaz DeNoise - easily fix grainy photos

Topaz DeNoise – easily fix grainy photos

Shooting pictures under low light has always been a choice between getting a photo that looks too dark (underexposed) or using a fast camera ISO so the photo exposure looks just right. The only problem with either choice is the photo looks “grainy” compared to one taken with adequate light.

Fortunately, there is a company that has created a solution to those grainy images. Topaz Labs offers a software called DeNoise that will allow you to:

  •  Raise your ISO without any fear

    Recover up to the equivalent of 4 stops of light. DeNoise can make ISO 1600 look like ISO 100. Use that extra light to get shots you otherwise couldn’t.

  •  Recover image detail hidden in noise

    Unlike other tools, DeNoise uses information from the whole image to remove noise and recover detail. This is far more effective than other methods.

  •  Shoot faster and clearer in less light

    It’s like buying a new lens or camera. You can now freeze action better (with a faster shutter speed) or get a wider depth of field (with a narrower aperture).

  •  Gain peace of mind about image quality

    Make sure your image quality is as good as it can possibly be in all areas. Handle edge cases like debanding, shadow tone restoration, and color casts.

  •  Use it wherever you edit photos

    Topaz DeNoise plugs into your existing workflow. Get it as a plugin for Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, and many more existing products.

  •  Get answers to questions at any time

    We’re as dedicated to you as you are to your photography. Get dedicated support and free product upgrades for life.

Save 50% off DeNoise if you get it by March 31, 2014 when you click this link.

Do you have photos that look grainy from underexposure or from using a high ISO when you took the picture? Please comment on your experience with Topaz Labs DeNoise.

Blurb is a cool company that lets you make books about anything that interests you. (View a sample of my Blurb-made book – Picturesque Olmsted Falls - http://bit.ly/olmsted-book) And if you’re interested in fashion and style—and love to show it off—making a book of your personal fashion is a fantastic way to capture your sartorial genius for all time. Whether you want it just for yourself, so you can look through your greatest hits, or you’re a bit of an Internet fashionista who wants to make a book to sell, you’ll find these tips pretty helpful:

1. It’s all about lighting. To make your fashion really pop, choose natural light or studio light with a soft box (you can even make one from a lamp and last season’s white t-shirt). If you’re using a flash, you’ll probably want to bounce it or stick a diffusion filter on it.

2. Make a shot list. This is a critical step, and even more important if you are photographing models. Even if your model is just your best friend who owes you a favor, they’ll appreciate it if you know exactly what you want to shoot. Think about the poses you want to capture, the outfits you want them to wear, and the details that you want to highlight in every shot. 

3. White balance (WB). Accurate color and skin tones come from making sure the WB function on your camera is set to your lighting situation. (You can check the color looks right on the camera’s screen to see if it looks right.) Not sure hoe to adjust the white balance? It will be covered in your camera’s manual. You do still have it, don’t you? ;-)

Be sure the camera's white balance is set to the correct lighting you're shooting under to ensure the models's skin color looks natural.

Be sure the camera’s white balance is set to the correct lighting you’re shooting under to ensure the models’s skin color looks natural.

4. Choose the right lens/zoom setting. If you’re using a wide angle, you’re going to distort your models face and body (and your model may never forgive you). If you have a camera with a zoom lens, zoom out to minimize distortion. You will then have to move farther away from the model to get their whole body in for those full length shots.

5. Keep it stylish. It’s a fashion shoot, after all. Play music, keep things moving, try new angles. Attitude, attitude, attitude. 

Try unusual angles. Shoot down from a ladder or lay on the floor and shoot up to make the subject look taller.

6. Dress it up. Make your book as fashionable as the clothing featured in it. Choose a simple design that doesn’t upstage the clothing, but still looks chic. Pick a size and paper type that showcases the work brilliantly.

If you’ve ever paid attention to what’s on the “catwalk,” you know that fashion means different things to different people. Follow your own fashion obsessions and document them in a fashionable book. If you look good today in person, imagine looking great forever on the printed page with Blurb! Start your Blurb book now and Save 25% on print book orders of $75+ at Blurb.

If you want the best model portraits possible, that’s where we can help. Check out some of our model shoots here.

Green Screen technique lets photographers place their subject anywhere they choose without having to leave the studio!

Green Screen technique lets photographers place their subject anywhere they choose without having to leave the studio!

 

$$ Go Green! $$ - A Green Screen Presentation by Bill Morley of Bill Morley Photography based in Independence, Ohio.

The program will cover:

● How to incorporate green screen into engagement sessions, senior sessions, families and kids – in rain or shine!

● Event photography: offer green screen as an alternative to cheesy photo booths 

● Where to get free backgrounds on the internet and with your own camera

● Foolproof lighting techniques: blend your subjects seamlessly into exciting backgrounds!

● Comparisons of green screen software

● And much more! 

See how your studio can have fun and save money!

Join us for this fun and informative program that will change the way you look at green screen!

This program is offered by the Society of Northern Ohio Professional Photographers on Tuesday, March 25th at the North Olmsted Public Library at 7 p.m.



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Artwork by North Ridgeville Photographer Mark Madere of SpectraLight Photography

Artwork by North Ridgeville Photographer Mark Madere of SpectraLight Photography

I’ve loaned 17 limited edition AlumaGraphsTM for exhibition at the library. The artwork includes a fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge taken from Alcatraz, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island appearing as if it were taken in a by-gone era and a unique rendering of a horseless buggy at Grand Pacific Junction in Olmsted Falls.

AlumaGraph(TM) Logo - photographs embedded on aluminum panels by Northeast Ohio photographer and North Ridgeville resident Mark Madere of SpectraLight Photography. Madere does portraits in Cleveland and surrounding areas including Olmsted Falls, Westlake, Rocky River, Avon Lake and more.

AlumaGraphs(TM) are photographs that are embedded on aluminum panels by Northeast Ohio photographer and North Ridgeville resident Mark Madere of SpectraLight Photography.

I discovered a unique way to “print” my art that sets it apart from all other medium. Instead of using traditional photographic paper, the images are rendered as AlumaGraphsTM – a proprietary process that transforms photographs into faux paintings and then melds them into aluminum. There’s nothing as captivating as a photo that shines on aluminum with a bright, clear, glossy base and brilliant color that pops.

I’ve always wanted to create stunning images of landscapes and unusual architecture. Unfortunately, I never did well in art class as a child. I knew what good composition was but just couldn’t draw a stick figure to save my life! I then fell in love with photography and was finally able to capture amazing scenes with a camera where an artist brush failed me. Nevertheless, my images still looked like pictures. The digital process I now use has elevated my photographs to look like the paintings I wanted to create since I was a little boy.

Some of my work may be viewed at www.mark-madere.artistwebsites.com.

The library is at 32649 Electric Blvd in Avon Lake. The exhibit runs from March 1st – 31st , 2014

Explode your business with YouTube videosTonight, I’ll be teaching local professional photographers how to turn their client photo sessions into simple-to-create videos that will help their studios be found easily on YouTube and Google searches.

The presentation is titled, “Explode Your Business with Simple-to-Create Videos and Your Own FREE YouTube Channel.” It will be held at the North Olmsted Library at 7 p.m. for the Society of Northern Ohio Professional Photographers (SONOPP) monthly meeting.

Through a series of short demonstration videos, attendees will discover how to “grab” new clients with simple videos that will help their studio’s website outrank their competition’s in Google search results – all without having to appear on camera or buying expensive video equipment.

At the end of the evening, attendees will:

• Review great and not-so-good videos of Ohio portrait photographers so they will understand the key elements of successful, client-capturing videos (Here’s a sample video they’ll see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY30tAkpwaM)

• Discover how to make videos with impact from existing photos with cheap, easy-to-use video editing software to get their first videos online immediately

• Learn the importance of having a “video intro” to brand their videos for instant recognition by their prospects and clients (They’ll also see SONOPP’s new video intro.)

• Understand what an actual photography studio YouTube channel looks like so they’ll have a guide to create their own, free channel

• Discover how to create their very own YouTube channel to host their videos and make them available for prospective clients who search Google for businesses like theirs

• Get a list of inexpensive, must-have video equipment for creating live videos for minimal cost

• Hear about an online, step-by-step training course for creating videos that includes tons or marketing tricks that will get their videos watched AND convert their viewers into paying customers

• Discover an online course on how to easily create promotional videos with a smartphone

Why should SMART business owners attend this program? Because:

• Video drives engagement. Engagement increases revenue.
• Websites with video are more likely to be featured on the first page of Google’s search results.
• Video adds credibility and is available 24/7.
• Video makes a website SIX times more likely to convert a visitor into a paying customer.
• Video is easily shared with other potential customers. It can be viewed on many devices.
• Video is memorable. With video, more content will be remembered and for a longer period of time than with text alone.
• Providing a link to a video within an email will increase response and drive more traffic to a website.
• A visitor will stay on a website featuring a video at least two minutes longer and is 64% more likely to purchase than a website without video.
• Video will enhance all other marketing efforts. Using video on a landing page will increase conversions.
• A professionally produced video outperforms user generated video by at least 30%.

Snow rollers - a rare phenomena occurring once every couple years around the world hit parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio

Snow rollers – a rare phenomena occurring once every couple years around the world hit parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio recently. (Photo: Marianne Atkinson)

A rare phenomena occurring once every couple years around the world has hit parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio this week.

While driving along I-80 in western Pennsylvania on Monday, a huge cluster of what appeared to be rolls of toilet paper invaded the median of the highway. At first I thought they were stacks of snow covered hay. Later that day I discovered they were “snow rollers” and were so unusual that they became an online sensation on social media sites and regional TV stations.

Snow rollers are most common in mountainous or hilly terrain. Basically, strong winds pick up moist snow and blow it along the ground, eventually building a cylinder of snow, which is often hollow in the middle. When the snow roller grows too large for the wind to propel it farther, it stops.

Here are the optimal conditions for snow roller generation, according to the National Weather Service:

  • Existing icy or crusty snow cover, so additional snow will not stick to it
  • Additional wet, loose snow on top of the icy, crusty snow cover
  • Wind strong enough to scoop out balls of snow and propel snow roller forward
  • At least some slope to the ground

A quick search of the Internet found photos and video at WPXI Pittsburgh, PA, Newsnet5 in Cleveland, OH, and NBC4 Columbus, OH.

Snow rollers can be as large as barrels, as you can see in this photo from Du Bois, Pennsylvania captured by nature lover (and my sister) – Marianne Atkinson.

Needless to say, I wish I would have taken some of my own photos along I-80; but stopping for non-emergency reasons on interstates is illegal. In this case I’ll just have to adopt a phrase used by Cleveland sports fans regarding their losing teams – “there’s always next year.”

Have you ever seen a snow roller in person? Please share your experience with my readers!

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