CLEveland ROCKS! And we have the building to prove it

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Cleveland, Ohio (Photo: Mark Madere | SpectraLight Photography)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio (Photo: Mark Madere | SpectraLight Photography)

Probably the most iconic building in Cleveland, Ohio is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As a photographer, I just love the distinct design created by world renowned architect, I. M. Pei. Almost every view of the building offers a unique view of Lake Erie or the downtown skyline.

See more views of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and order art prints here.

 

9/11 – Where were you when our nation came under siege?

Photo of Statue of Liberty in New York City taken November 23, 2001 - about 10 weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

September 11th marks the thirteen year anniversary of the terror attacks on our country. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives that day and our country lost it's innocence as well.

September 11, 2001 was a glorious fall day in Northeast Ohio. My oldest daughter, Jacqui, was home from school recovering from her wisdom teeth being extracted the day before. Around 9 a.m., my wife called telling me to turn on the TV to see coverage of a plane that had just crashed into the World Trade Center. As the minutes passed, another one hit the WTC, and then the Pentagon, and then Shanksville, PA. It was clear these were no accidents.

My daughter and I watched the coverage all day, wondering what was in store for the future. Could we expect major acts of terror every day? Fortunately, no. But unfortunately, our personal freedoms have come under assault.

Weeks prior to the attacks, my family had planned our first visit ever to New York City during the week of Thanksgiving. After 9/11, we debated whether it is was wise to go there with the possibility of more terrorism. We chose to go.

9/11 World Trade Center rubble in New York

9/11 World Trade Center rubble in New York still stood five stories high in November, 2011.

Our drive along I-80 through Pennsylvania to the “Big Apple” revealed our country's amazing patriotism. We saw the American flag proudly waving over several overpasses and displayed from the windows of countless cars. As we got closer to NYC, we stopped at gas stations and restauraunts where it seemed that everyone we spoke to lost a friend or relative in the World Trade Center collapse.

Probably the most breathtaking moment as we approached the city from several miles out was our first glimpse of the Empire State Building. I imagined what that skyline would have looked like if the Twin Towers still stood. It became difficult driving as my eyes misted over.

There were many other emotional moments as we toured New York. At Grand Central Terminal there was a large display of photos and memorabilia of loved ones lost during the attacks. There was the gut wrenching view of the rubble being cleared away from the Twin Towers – still standing five stories high and smoldering more than ten weeks after the buildings collapsed.

9/11 attack - seagull flies over New York Harbor

A seagull flies over New York Harbor with the skyline missing the World Trade Center Twin Towers.

Fortunately, there was one huge reminder of how great our country is. The Statue of Liberty standing proudly on Ellis Island was there to remind us that our country will always fight for our freedom. It was a wonderful way to conclude our journey.

So what memories do you have from the day the world changed forever? Please share them with a comment.

A commemorative photo remembering 9/11

Statue of Liberty in New York City after 9/11

Statue of Liberty in New York City after 9/11. See this artwork larger or order a limited edition commemorative print at http://mark-madere.artistwebsites.com/featured/we-shall-never-forget-9-11-mark-madere.html. (Note: the commemorative print does NOT have “SpectraLight.com/fineart” on it.)

“Cancel the trip – terrorists have attacked New York!” Those were the words I heard my wife utter over the telephone from work the morning of September 11, 2001.

There weren't any more attacks on the U.S. after that, so just 10 weeks later,  my wife, two young daughters and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in New York City. There was a somber mood cast over the city with the huge loss of life after the Twin Towers fell.

Through it all, the terrorists failed to take away our freedom. Seeing “Lady Liberty” keeping watch over New York Harbor gave us comfort and a sense of pride for our country. It is those feelings that inspired the creation of the above photo.

The image on the left is the low contrast, original image right out of the camera. The image on the right was created in just a couple mouse clicks with Topaz Adjust – a software program that I use to enhance most of my outdoor photos. The text “We Shall Never Forget – 9/11” was added with Adobe Premiere Elements.

Save 15% off Adjust 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.

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!

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!

Amazing Green Screen trick – place people anywhere in the world without leaving the studio

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.

Blown away by snow rollers

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!

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

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.

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.

How to make your own amazing photo book

Picturesque Olmsted Falls book

Picturesque Olmsted Falls book

Ever since I wrote about publishing my Picturesque Olmsted Falls coffee table book, I've been getting TONS of e-mails asking where I had it printed. Seems like every one wants to have a gorgeous keepsake of their vacations, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries – even the adventures of family pets – including a guinea pig!

After months of online research, checking forums and talking to other photographers; I found a company – blurb.com – that makes high quality books at a very reasonable price! You can download their FREE book design software from their web site right now and begin designing your masterpiece in minutes.

Prices start at just $4.95 for a 5×8 book. They have several intermediate sizes with the largest books at 12×12 and 13×11. These books are far superior in quality to other company's that are comparably priced.

So what are you waiting for? Download your free software and create your amazing book of memories today! BONUS:  Save 20% with code BLURB20 through August 31, 2011.

What would your book be about? A family vacation? A special holiday? Your son or daughter's wedding? Please leave your comments on this post.