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Thank You, Peyo – The Lighter Side of The Twilit Lens

Thank You, Peyo - The Lighter Side of The Twilit Lens

Smurfs are a guilty pleasure for me. I have a modest collection that contrasts brightly with the somewhat desaturated look that defines most of my art. They’re fun to look at, so when I found some large mushrooms growing behind my RV after a sharp rain shower, my assistant took one look at them and said, “Smurfs!” What’s a photographer to do??

So enjoy this freebie from me to you. Here’s hoping it brightens your wall soon. Cheers!

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/22, 4″

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Fan Favorite: The Lounging Angel

Lounging Angel

Hi everyone! I’ve noticed that quite a few people have been peeking at this photo on my gallery. I’m glad it’s such a favorite, because it’s actually one of mine too.

It’s a cemetery angel, of course. Where else would someone like me be hanging out on an otherwise sunny day? JoDee, my amazing wife and assistant, was with me that day; and when I saw this statue resting on a headstone, I was enchanted. If anything could lend an almost light-hearted air to a cemetery, this would be it. It’s almost as if the little guy is saying, “Don’t be sad. This person isn’t gone; they’ve just moved to a new address.”

And in a way it’s actually a plug for the Lensbaby line of products, which I am I die-hard fan of. The Spark, which is their entry-level lens and what was used to capture the angel, is really a lot of fun to use. I highly recommend you check out their site and see what’s for sale.

This shot would be a great addition to anyone’s office or home. If you agree, click here to see it full-size in my Fine Art gallery. You’ll find a “Buy” button on the lower-right that will take you to my shop. You’ll be able to buy both prints and merchandise.

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Don’t forget: my new ebook “Gaunt Dreams” is available for everyone who subscribes. Click here to register and get your free copy today!

Creepypasta: Stuffed Stalker

Sock Monkey Ruins

That tiny smiling face is appearing in more and more of my photos. Sitting in every dark corner, squatting among the ruins, staring with round button eyes.

It first showed up on my door. A little note said, “To keep you company.”

Now it won’t leave me alone. Sitting on tombstones. Hiding behind rocks, peeking around corners. My head hurts when I look at it. It’s sitting against my wall now. Staring. Camera shaking. Or is it all in my head?

Going to bed. I’m going to pull the covers up over my head. Won’t look out. Afraid to look out. Afraid to see it.

Looking at me…

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Scared? You should be. But if you dare to dig further…

Subscribe to my email list by clicking here! And you’ll be rewarded for your bravery when you receive a free copy of my ebook “Gaunt Dreams: 10 Tips for Taking Compelling Photos the Twilit Lens Way.”

Teaching Photography: Paying it Forward

Teaching

It’s a good feeling to be able to give back to the community, using whatever talents we possess. In my case, for those curious souls out there, I currently moonlight as an instructor at a local day program for disabled adults. One of the classes I teach is (you guessed it) photography, which is naturally my favorite subject.

This week’s session was about urbex photography, an idea that’s near and dear to my heart and one that I believe can be done legally as long as you’re willing to do the additional legwork. And even if you have a disability, there are certain “stabilized ruins” that are professionally maintained, accessible, and open for tours.

Though I’m not able to show the faces of my students on this blog due to privacy concerns, a good time was had by all. The class covered research, safety, essential gear, and special exposure/focusing techniques for low-light conditions. I used a combination of Powerpoint, abundant props, and a smattering of my own shots to illustrate key points.

If you have a talent for education, consider teaching a class yourself. Who knows? Maybe the next great artist will be inspired by your words!

If you haven’t already signed up for my email list, click here! You’ll receive a free copy of my ebook “Gaunt Title Blog GraphicDreams: 10 Tips for Taking Compelling Photos the Twilit Lens Way.” Plus you’ll also be eligible for exclusive content, including special discounts on Twilit Lens services, prints, and merchandise!

Sunset Cathedral – A Photo Composite

Cathedral Composite

 

I have to admit that sometimes even magic hour lacks that certain “something.” In this case, it lacked an interesting sky. Enter Photoshop’s magnetic lasso tool. This tool always fascinates me with how it knows to conform to a shape no matter how irregular the outline.

Once the natural sky was removed and a suitable artificial sky inserted as a new layer, the picture truly came together. That being said, the golden hour side lighting made for a truly haunting composition.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/11, 1/30

The Church on the Hill: A Reason to use Articulated Screens

Church on the Hill

This church building fascinates me. Made of some dark local stone and set high on a hill, it seemed like something right out of HPL’s “Haunter of the Dark.” So to further the effect, I took the shot from the base of said hill. Given the extreme angle here, I used a camera with an articulated screen, a feature that among other things allows easier composition when the camera is tilted at odd angles.

Remember to try angles other than eye level to capture your subject. In many cases, photographing something from below eye-level lends a sense of power to the picture. This can apply to both objects and people.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/4, 1/250

Roadside Photography: Of Triplets and Tripods

Three Silos

There a lot of farms where I’m currently staying. And even in winter they never sleep. Cows continue to graze, tractors keep trundling down the road and through the fields, and silos stand ever silent as they are slowly emptied of their precious feed corn.

I like these old style silos; they have so much texture to them, every tile shaded with the weathering of years. And these “triplets” seemed perfectly posed.

This shot was taken with a tripod-mounted Canon 60D with Tamron 18-270 zoom set at 100mm. This is notable for two reasons. First, it shows you don’t need an ultra-expensive camera or lens to take great shots. And second, always remember to deactivate any image stabilization your lens may have when you’re using a tripod. The stillness of the ‘pod may confuse the IS mechanism and actually ADD camera shake where there was none before!

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/16, .3″

Gaunt Dreams – Sign Up to Get Your Free Copy!

Cover Image Available Now

I’m pleased to announce that Gaunt Dreams, my new mini PDF ebook, is now available for distribution! This thirty page gem contains ten detailed tips about some of the techniques you can use to bring your photography to the “dark side.”

To get your free copy, all you need to do is sign up for my email list. Being a member of this list will grant you access to additional and exclusive content, including special offers and discounts from The Twilit Lens! Trust me, you’ll want to get in on this.

There are three ways to sign up. First, you can go to my home page at http://www.twilitlens.com. Just enter your email address in the space provided and click the “Subscribe” button. Second, you can click the link on this blog’s sidebar. Finally, you can click this link right here. Both links will take you to a special sign-up form. Once you’ve joined, you will receive an email within 24 hours containing a link where you can download your eBook from my special Dropbox folder.

But back to the content. Interested in HDR? Urbex? Plastic Cameras? You’ll find material on all these subjects and more in Gaunt Dreams. Plus it’s hard to beat the price. Enjoy, everyone!

Ruined Silo – A Study in DoF

Ruined Silo

Getting cozy with a plow bank during rush hour seems like an unlikely place to experiment with depth of field, but after watching a video from B&H I was inspired to try out a few of the latest DoF calculator smartphone apps. Trust me, there are some nice ones out there.

It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to set your f-stop number to its smallest setting, but that may not be the best option due to the effects of diffraction. It’s a much better idea to do a little figuring to find the optimal setting. These apps can help with that. Plus several of them are free!

If you’ve never used one, most DoF calculators ask you for the model of your camera body (or failing that, a figure called the “circle of confusion” which you can google for your camera model), the focal length of your current lens, the aperture figure, and the approximate distance to your chosen subject. Once you provide the information, the app will give you the distances from you that will be in focus. This is particularly critical if you are planning shooting a landscape.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/16, 1″

Shadowy House – Hiding in Plain Sight

Shadowy House

Sometimes, the most interesting photo ops stare at you every day without you being aware of them.

Just outside of a small town that lies north of my current residence, there is a cluster of trees and bushes along a busy thoroughfare. On all sides are businesses, restaurants and gas stations; the sound of traffic never ceases. But the vegetation hides something from the casual driver: a sight that if it was revealed would seem not just out of place but add a flavor of desolation to an otherwise thoroughly suburban landscape.

From the depth of the undisturbed and shrouding snow, no one has been in the house for some time. And yet the windows, so far as I could see, were unbroken. Perhaps the previous inhabitants have passed on or moved away. And now, as the bustle of life and commerce continues beyond the treeline, the wind sighs through the empty rooms and halls.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/5, 1/160

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