Fireworks photos with a unique twist – these aren’t your mamma’s snapshots

 

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 (owner of SpectraLight Photography) – 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.

SAVE 15% off Star Effects or any of their other Topaz Labs software using code “15topaz” at checkout: http://spectralight.com/TopazSoftware. Scroll down that page to see all the software titles available.)

Have fun!

NOTE: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, you'll help support this blog at no cost to you – allowing us to continue sharing information like this for your education and enjoyment. Win/Win! Thanks!

Avon Lake Public Library to host my AlumaGraph(TM) exhibit

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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

Discover 7 Secrets to Better Vacation Photography

Changing camera angles and take an ordinary pose and transform it to an extraordinary one.

Changing camera angles and take an ordinary pose and transform it to an extraordinary one. These photos are from the presentation: “7 Secrets to Better Vacation Photography”

I'm really excited to be asked to show how to take better vacation photos at the May 20th meeting of the North Ridgeville Arts Council. I will be presenting “Discover 7 Secrets to Better Vacation Photography.” The information can be used to improve vacation photography, pictures of friends and family, sporting events and more.

Topics to be covered include: how to choose a camera, creative composition from unusual camera angles, use of natural light and electronic flash, how to help people look their best, enhancing photos after they're taken, saving and preserving picture files to guard against loss from a computer crash, different ways to display photographs for maximum enjoyment and more.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

The meeting is on Monday, May 20th at 7 p.m. at North Ridgeville Library,35700 Bainbridge Rd, North Ridgeville.

Northeast Ohio amateur photographers could win big bucks

You're a winner!”

Yes, those could be the words that a few lucky Cleveland area photographers hear after judging is completed for three amateur photo contests – one local, one national and one international.

The local contest is the “Photo Safari at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo here you can try your hand at animal photography. All photos must be taken on zoo grounds between April 1 and October 31, 2013 and submitted to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on photographic paper on or before October 31, 2013.

The Best of Show winner will get a Behind-the-Scenes Zoo tour, Adopt an Animal package courtesy of the Cleveland Zoological Society and a Polaroid PoGo Photo Printer. Other prizes include Zoo family memberships, 18-hole rounds of golf at any Cleveland Metroparks Golf Course, $25 Discount Drug Mart gift cards and much more.

Get contest details at http://www.clemetzoo.com/events/event.asp?event_id=37.

Next up is the “Olive Garden Picture Perfect InstaGram Contest.” And no, you don't have to be an Olive Garden fan or even eat there to be eligible to participate. Of course, I LOVE their Eggplant Parmesan so I'll grab a bite there in your honor.

There are 42 prizes with the Grand Prize winner receiving a $500 prepaid credit card.

The contest is open to lawful permanent residents of the United States (including D.C.); between the ages of 13 and 18 years old as of April 1, 2013, and have an active InstaGram account. The contest ends on May 14, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. so you better hurry!
Get contest details at http://www.officialolivegardenrules.com/olive-garden-picture-perfect.

Finally, there's the “The Art of Photography Show 2013.” There are $10,000 in cash awards with the first place winner receiving $2,000 and fourteen others grabbing lesser cash prizes.

This contest is geared for aspiring photographers who are ready to invest $25 for their first entry and $10 for each additional entry. Entries must be received by May 18th at 11:59 pm PDT (California Time) so time is of the essence.

Get contest details at http://www.artofphotographyshow.com

Have you ever wanted to create a book of your favorite images to share with family and friends? Or maybe you would like to offer your book for purchase to the general public for a little extra income.

I've create two books using a pretty cool company called Blurb. One is a pictorial celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge and the other is a collection of unique images of Picturesque Olmsted Falls, Ohio.

Now you can create a book for yourself or your mom for Mother's Day and save 20% off through May 10, 2013. Simply enter coupon code LOVEYOUMOM at checkout to claim your discount.

So what's been your experience with photo contests? Please comment and share some contests you've entered and what you thought of the judging.

Do you like this article? Please share this article with you friends on Facebook, LinkedIn or via e-mail.

Our unusual artwork accepted for exhibition at prestigious Westlake-Westshore Arts Council show

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Golden Gate Bridge viewed from Alcatraz by Mark Madere of SpectraLight Photography of North Ridgeville

Golden Gate Bridge viewed from Alcatraz. See this image larger or order it online at http://bit.ly/spec-goldengatebridge-1

WOW! I just found out that three unique pieces were selected from my digital art collection for exhibit at the prestigious 13th Annual Community of Fine Arts Show presented by the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council. The juried art show runs from August 6 – 18 at the Westlake Porter Library at 27333 Center Ridge Road in Westlake.

Red Buggy at Grand Pacific Junction in Olmsted Falls by Mark Madere of SpectraLight Photography

Red Buggy at Grand Pacific Junction in Olmsted Falls. See this image larger or order it online at http://bit.ly/spec-buggy

My entries include 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.

Over the past three years, I've developed a proprietary digital process to meld photographs into faux paintings. I’ve always wanted to create beautiful images of landscapes and unusual architecture. Unfortunately, I never did well in art class as a child. I had an idea of 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. However, my images still looked like pictures. The digital process I now use has elevated my photographs to look like the paintings that I sought since I was a little boy.

Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island by Mark Madere of SpectraLight Photography of North Ridgeville

Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island. See this image larger or order it online at http://bit.ly/spec-GrandHotel-1

I also discovered a really cool, unique way to “print” my art. Instead of standard photographic paper, I have them embedded into aluminum panels. There’s nothing as captivating as a photo that shines on aluminum with a bright, clear, glossy base with brilliant color that pops. Two of my pieces in the show will be presented on these panels.

See more of my work and order prints for your home or business or give as gifts at www.mark-madere.artistwebsites.com.

Get a GREAT Freebie at Falls Day in the Park this Sunday

FREE uniquely shaped, limited edition post card of the waterfall at Olmsted Falls. Read the article to see how you can get one!

FREE uniquely shaped, limited edition post card of the waterfall at Olmsted Falls. Read the article to see how you can get one!

Do you like free food, rock music and give aways? Then get ready for a fun afternoon at Falls Day in the Park this Sunday – Oct. 2nd – from 1 – 4 p.m. at East River Park on Lewis Road in Olmsted Falls.

There will be free hot dogs, chili, brats, donuts, apple cider and more from local civic groups and businesses. A rock band will provide free entertainment while you enjoy local arts and crafts vendors and more.  It’s a great time to reconnect with old friends from the Olmsted area.

SpectraLight Photography will be showing off and selling “Picturesque Olmsted Falls – Gazebos, Waterfalls, a Covered Bridge and More – Oh My!” Believed to be the first book of it’s kind in Northeast Ohio, it contains nearly 50 photographs that look similar to paintings created with watercolor, oils, canvas and other “Old Masters” techniques.

To launch the book, we are giving away a uniquely shaped, limited edition post card of the scene chosen for the book cover. A sample of the card is shown above. If you can’t make it to Falls Day in the Park, you can get a free post card by sending a self-addressed, long (business size) envelope to: Free Olmsted Falls Post Card, c/o SpectraLight Photography, 8367 Burlington Drive, North Ridgeville, OH, 44039.

Astonishing “human camera” or $6 million man?

Panorama of Tokyo drawn by Steven Wiltshire accurately from memory!

Tokyo Panorama by "Human Camera" Steven Wiltshire drawn precisely from memory!

Rome may not have been built in a day – but savant Steven Wiltshire drew a 33 foot panorama of the city in just two days! Wiltshire is not part man, part machine like Steve Austin from the 1970s series: The Six Million Dollar Man. He accomplished this feat (and many more) with his natural, God-given abilities.
Human_Camera_Stephen_Wiltshire

"Human Camera" Stephen Wiltshire

 
What makes this achievement so amazing is that Wiltshire was taken for a short helicopter ride where he observed Rome from a bird's eye view. Afterward, he drew the city center on blank paper. From memory, Wiltshire accurately reproduced the winding streets, buildings, the windows – even the EXACT number of columns in the Pantheon.
 
Wiltshire, who has been called “the human camera,” has the incredible ability to recall minute details of anything he has seen and then reproduce them in drawings. He was born mute. At the age of three he was diagnosed as autistic. At the age of five, Wiltshire attended Queensmill School in London where he expressed interest in drawing where he began to communicate through his art. At the age of eight, he started drawing imaginary post-earthquake cityscapes and cars.
 
Wiltshire has also drawn New York City, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and London on giant canvasses.
 
To read more about Stephen Wiltshire, see more of his work and order paintings and gifts, visit the Stephen Wiltshire web site.
 
So how good is your re-call? I can't remember where I parked my car at the grocery store! Please leave your comments on this post.

Sneak peak: “Picturesque Olmsted Falls” book now at the printer

 

For years, people have asked when I would publish a collection of my artistic renderings of the many notable scenes of Olmsted Falls. The wait is finally over!

Check out the “sneak peak” of the book – above. It has 47 total images. They have all been enhanced in Photoshop to look like actual paintings. It is more obvious in the printed book than what you'll see online.

What a great Christmas or birthday gift for current or former natives of Olmsted Falls.

NOTE: Reveal the images in full-screen by clicking the button to the right of the shopping cart icon!

What do you think of this book? Please leave a comment here and share it on Facebook or Twitter with the t and f  icons underneath and to the left of the book.

Our art photos are now available for your home

One of our art photos that is available to grace the walls of your home

After we posted our article about four of our scenic art photos being accepted into the University Hospitals of Cleveland Art Show, we have been deluged with requests by our readers wishing to purchase these images.

We have good news! Not only are those art photos available for purchase but many more from across the U.S. and Mexico. And we continue to add to the collection as time permits.

See our artwork at http://www.spectralight.com/fineart.

There's still time to get art prints in time for Christmas AND save 17% on the print portion of any order. Guaranteed Cristmas delivery ends on December 12th (Ground Shipments) or on December 15th (Overnight Shipments).