Saturday, July 14, 2012

Photographing people in Rome

There are many wonderful photo opportunities possible while walking around Rome. I look for relationships between people and the environment. If I see something or someone that looks like it would make an extraordinary photo I ask myself first what are the conditions of light, contrast, color and potential composition. If a certain criteria is met I make all the necessary manual adjustments on my camera, approach the subject, often with discretion, and shoot it. 99% of every photo I take is done mentally before I shoot it mechanically.

In the above image I combined the gesture of a statue with the action of a person playing guitar. The location is Ponte Saint Angelo, a bridge that crosses the Tiber River. I visually recognized a connection between the statue of the angel and the guitarist, thus framed them as a visual pair. I especially saw the relationship between the hands of each figure and the 'repetition of form' they exemplified. The light and contrast were perfect for black and white photography. The soft hues of dusk filter evenly over the subjects and the background adds just enough information to give a 'sense of place' to the overall composition.

William Shepley - Master Photographer in Rome

Saturday, July 7, 2012

2 Days, 2 Photos, 2 Churches in Paris

Though the summer has been slow to grow, early July has produced some hot days already and the heat  almost always pushes me to church. Any church will do on a hot day in Paris. In off peak times (no mass), and little tourist traffic the cool quiet air is the perfect atmosphere in which to breathe and to recover some semblance of sanity from the crazy outside world.

I do not go into churches with the intention of photography but sometimes as they say in the zen of creativity the photograph arrives.

Which brings to mind Sir John Berry's (1635-1690) quote "the bird of paradise alights only upon the hand that does not grasp".

The two photographs you see here were presented to me in two separate churches on two different days. And you could say I saw the light. Which I did.
I only had to meter and compose and press the shutter to capture these two simple images.  I quote many great photographers when I reiterate, "simple photographs are best, or the best photographs are simple. Whatever way you want to say it, it's true.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Photographing the Colosseum

On any given day from May to September the Colosseum, the most dominating and enduring icon of Rome, will be packed with visitors. Tens of thousands of photos are taken of the Flavian Amphitheater and therefore many millions of images are shot every year. It has been photographed from every angle and at all times of day and night and every photographer from the amateur tourist to the hard core professional will shoot it. 

Originality aside, I suggest shooting a time exposure at dusk or at night when the amphitheater is accentuated with recessed lighting in the arches. You will need a tripod for an exposure ranging from 10 seconds to perhaps 30 seconds depending on your ISO rating. The ISO rating determines the sensitivity of your digital sensor. The lower numbers like ISO 100 allow for longer exposures and also a sharper image. The streaking lights of the automobiles and buses during a time exposure will add motion and action to an otherwise stationary form. I suggest shooting from the high ground along a road on the north eastern side above the metro station. Another possibility is to shoot very early in the morning just before sunrise when there are no visitors and you can have the Colosseum all to yourself. 

by William Shepley -Master Photographer in Rome

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Joy of Photography in Paris

Paris, France! I often forget to remember how wonderful it is to walk around Paris with friends, acquaintances and clients who then become friends as the result of a shared interest. Photography in Paris is like a sensory overload for this photographer, like the proverbial "kid in a candy store"!

Some of my "colleagues" in my photographic fraternity turn their noses up at what I do, because for them it's not "art".  I consider sharing my knowledge and talent with interested and eager visitors to Paris as a privilige and most often a great pleasure and source of inspiration. You could say I'm going thru an attitude of gratitude. Thanks Larry! Larry is my boss by the way! A very passionate photographer with a great eye for making the usual look unusual, which in turn makes fine art images. And this is what my clients enjoy about my style also. It's taking everyday things and changing how we see them, or if you like our point of view. Which can be from laying on the sidewalk or leaning over a bridge, it does pay to move around, plus I get tired walking after about three hours so laying down is good.

In Paris the Parisians love to debate. Which reminds me, I recently had a dinner with some french friends whom I asked over dinner how to conjugate a verb. The explanation lasted three hours.

Be careful what you ask for. Living in Paris is like living with a woman, some days you can't get enough of her the next you want to get out and run away. As a photographer I love it more often than want to run away from it. The adventures thru the lens tours are something I have come to enjoy and appreciate more and more, because no matter at what level my clients are at I always end up with some new knowledge or inspiration. Thanks again Larry! On these tours I have started to include more and more info on portraits and on finding the "right" light and backgrounds for beautiful portraits. I include dogs too because Parisians love their canine treasures. I found this fella below sleeping  on a nice sofa behind one of those ancient wooden Paris doors.

The last thing I say to clients is "keep taking photos, know your camera, and your photographic IQ will grow and grow"! I like to think mine has!

Kevin - Paris Adventure thru the Lens

Monday, April 9, 2012

Getting The Details Through Cropping

Photography is not only cropping, cleaning and auto balancing your image to make that great shot.  However, I understand that in commercial, portrait, and creative photography, cropping, resetting, and altering the images is the norm.  Who wants to look at an advertisement for beauty cream with the face all blotchy and full of pimples? Have you ever seen a real live person that looks a perfect as they do in the magazine?

The secret for taking beautiful images lies in your aspiration, passion and admiration of the subject, if it be landscape, people, buildings or food.  For some reason, when you are attracted to the subject it shows in your images and they reflect your passion. Using techniques such as composition, angles, and light can help you to create a wonderful image that can only be tools to help enhance your images.  Using light can draw your focus onto your subject; the angle use can change the representation of your subject from short to tall for example.  Perspective is important while deciding on what angle to use, what light is best to set up your shot.  Rule of thumb, take your time and never be in a hurry before taking a shot.  Imagine in your mind that instead of using your digital camera that allows you to trash the images you do not like, you are using film.  That precious film that costs so much to develop each roll and each shot depends on your angles, perspective, and lighting.  This way, you can learn to be careful and think before snapping and shooting your image.


Don’t just walk up to something that you want to take a picture of and snap a shot!  Don’t only look at the subject from eye level!  Walk around your subject, if you can, or take a one -meter step to your left, to your right, up and down while looking through your viewer.  Do you see anything that stands out to you?  Which position reflects what you want to show in your image?  Take a series of shots from different angles.  I saw a new stature in front of the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy and walked around it. Like This!

You can see the difference with the various perspectives, just by walking around the statue and taking my time to look at what I am seeing.! Which one do you like best?

Susan Robens – Adventures Thru The Lens Florence Photographer, Guide, and Muse

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Golden Mean in Paris

I was recently going through some Paris photography tour photos when I stumbled on this picture.
It's a prime lens example of not looking around the frame to avoid distractions. It was taken in the
jardin des Tuileries here in Paris. Had it been intentional I may be rather proud of it. To my
credit I did instinctively use the rule of thirds by placing the innocent man who had no idea of
what I was doing (neither did I) on a third. At the carrefour where the horizontal and vertical lines
cross is known the "Golden mean point". I hope my students don't see this photo!

Kevin - Paris Thru the Lens - Photo Guide

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Shooting Rome - Rain or Shine!

Rome was founded over 2,700 years ago, so it’s got a lot of history.  I encourage people to get away from the run of the mill, “standard” photos of monuments and look for the interesting angle, capturing Rome’s history as part of its present day fabric: looking out for the small details that many would overlook.


I want the people who come on the tours to take a little time think about their photos.  Try to let the photo tell a story, it doesn’t have to be War and Peace, or Charles Dickens, but a slice of an emotion that you felt which made you want to take the picture in the first place.  Most of all take time over composition. What are the elements that make you want to take it?

And how can you bring them all together in a harmonious way so it all clicks into place?

And I underline how important it is to make a decision when composing, should the photo be horizontal or vertical, and to study the relationship and positioning of the various elements to the edge of the frame.  Rather than shooting casually, look around you, just a few centimetres right or left, backwards or forwards, up or down, can make a lot of difference.

One one July  day my client John and I not only photographed Coliseum and the Pantheon and other famous landmarks, we also photographed the violin maker; the antiques restorers workshop; the colourful market in Campo de Fiori; the Jewish Ghetto (a unique neighbourhood that feels like you have been invited into some one’s living room) two small but beautiful churches, one lavishly decorated, the other one with an interesting surprise in store. We also photographed inside the world’s oldest public library and we met a Roman artist whose studio door is itself a painting, and went inside to photograph.

The day began with one of Rome's famous downpours; I was afraid John wouldn't show up, but he did - with his wife and son.   Photographing Rome (or any city) in the rain is a photographer's delight as there are many interesting (and sometimes funny) incidents with tourists running for cover.  Rain also provides wonderful relflections on the cobblestones.  As you can see, the rain didn't deter John from "telling his story" in photos.

I like to show my clients the Rome that I find most vibrant – the out of the way streets and alleys which are full of history and still full of life.

-Steve Bisgrove (right) with John H. -  Adventures Thru The Lens Photographer in Rome, Italy

Friday, March 9, 2012

Master Photography Workshop in Rome

Rome is much like a visual sonata . . a mixture of congruous movements, contrasting tempos, keys, moods and styles. It's the ultimate movie set, made ready to photograph, day or night.

Gino the photographer at the Trevi Fountain

Perhaps the most interesting subject to photograph in Rome are the Romans themselves. The citizens of Rome can be described as opinionated, stylish, dramatic, stubborn and publicly expressive. When observing the city's inhabitants I am often reminded of the most successful brand in history, SPQR (Senatus Populus que Romanus), . . the Senate and Roman People . That pride of citizenship may or may not be true today but I'd like to think it still holds water.

A word of caution . . always ask before you shoot. Photographing people in public requires discretion and tact. The 'golden rule' . . do unto others as you would expect them to do unto you, works. I got friendly with a homeless guy Marcel. He lived on the main pedestrian way on Isola Tiberini, the Island on the Tiber. He had a dog (unfortunately paralyzed from the waist down), two parakeets, potted plants, a bicycle, a tent and he seriously called this place his home. Several thousand people walk pass this spot everyday. He was part sane and part crazy especially when he got plastered. Individuals like Marcel, who live on the edge, interest me, in part, because of the photographic potential and the stories they can tell.  Marcel who looked about 60 Years old, had a hand held digital movie camera and he recorded himself in a personal diary. While I was visiting Marcel one day, a tourist approached him and photographed him without asking permission. Marcel picked up his movie cam and turned it on the tourist. He got in his face and hounded him for a couple hundred yards. I was seriously impressed by that and I got a good laugh out of it. To Marcel people were guests in his house. So therefor the simple courtesies we expect from others work great when they grace our own communications. But as a last resort, always have a pocket full of single Euros on hand out when the need arises. 

Why do I love photographing Rome? Simply put It has all the right ingredients photographers crave. The art of life itself in this earthly treasure is omnipresent. I easily give Rome a rating of ten on a scale of ten for just about any endeavor. If photography is one's pleasure, Rome will not disappoint.  William Shepley Rome Master Class Workshops

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds helps you to produce better images. It is something most people learn in beginning photography classes and is a useful rule to remember when framing your subject!  Of course, rules can be broken, but if you break this rule, remember the rule and know why you are breaking it!

 This rule is actually very simple.

 1)    Take your frame and divide it into 9 equal squares like this:

  2)      Now take the intersections of the lines as your points of focus:
   3)    Then imagine going in the direction of the “eye” lines that we call power points: by placing our subjects near the power points we can give a balance to a composition making it more engaging to the eye. Here are some examples:

In the top photo, the tree is to the left of the center, notice how the focal points are at the lines.

In the center photo,  this tree is focused on the center.

In the bottom photo,  the same tree is on the right line.

Which one do you think is best?

Which image draws your eye through the image?

Which one looks umm sort of boring?

When you center your subject, it gives the impression that something is missing, the image is not complete.  The image with the same tree on the left gives more depth to the image, and draws you to different focal points.  The same tree on the right, does the same thing, only with fewer trees!

Avoid making the horizon in the center of the frame, putting it either 1/3 higher or 1/3 lower than the center.  You can use this rule either horizontal or vertical.  When doing this you want to create a visual path.  Here are a few examples:

In the photo above, the horizon line is in the middle of the frame.  Again, when you put the horizon in the center point of the image, most of the subjects are missing the focal points, the image looks cut off and not complete.

Of course, when you put the horizon at the bottom 1/3 you will have more sky, creating a different feeling than when you focus the horizon at the upper 1/3 line.  In this case, it depends on what you want to represent.  The land and lines of the olive trees?  Or the vastness of the countryside with a broader sky?  Here are example:


When you look through your lens, look at the focal points and imagine the lines move your camera to see which angle you like best before taking that shot!  Remember, the easiest way to remember this is to "keep your horizons high or low, but not in the center!"

Happy shooting!

Susan Brannon - your Photo Adventurer photographer in Florence Italy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Roman Acquaducts - Old & New

Today I went to the Archeological Park outside Rome to see the famous Roman Aquaducts.  It's amazing how they were constructed to bring water to Rome from so far away.  More amazing is that they are still standing after 2000 years, and some of them still work.  The park is a favorite place for bikers, joggers, runners, and strollers.

... and....yes....golfers!

What a contrast of old and new!

Tony B.
National Geographic Photographer for Hire
Will Fly Anwhere

Thursday, February 9, 2012

National Geographic Photographer in Rome

I arrived in Rome, the Eternal City, but we call it the Infernal City because it just drives you crazy!  But you gotta LOVE THIS CITY!  I come here every summer to lead photography tours.  This year we have added a new facet to our already successful programs that will bring the history of Rome to life in a unique way.

This photo is of the Roman Forum in the late afternoon.  I've been shooting the Roman Forum for over 40 years and never get tired of pointing my camera into those beautiful ruins.  The light is always changing from moment to moment, bathing those ancient stones in shades of the golden light Rome is so famous for.

This was shot with a Nikon D300s and a 18-200mm lens. 

Tony Boccaccio in Rome

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Discovering Dalida in Paris

I've been in love before, I think? But since having seen and heard Dalida I'm completely besotted by her. She was born in Cairo to Italian parents from a musical background, and they had Dalida taking singing lessons as soon as she could burp. She came to France as an actress but found most success on stage singing. Her life was even more tragic than mine, her estranged husband shot himself, and  her last two lovers also died at their own hands. I had a lucky escape. She died of an overdose this day, May 3rd 1987. Maybe it's as well she was before my time?

These are some of the films that she appeared in.

Joseph and his brothers - with Omar Sharif
The mask of Toutankhamon
A glass and a cigarette
Stranger in paradise
Rapt au deuxième bureau
Parlez moi d'amour - (1960)
Ménage à l'Italienne - (1964)
L'inconnue de Hong Kong - with Serge Gainsbourg
The Sixth Day - (1986) - Youssef Chahine
Some of her hit songs:

Today at her magnificent grave scores of her loyal fans came to pay homage to this sadly missed beautiful woman who had the voice of an angel. My adventures thru the lens tours bring me to Montmartre and Dalida's grave almost weekly, and it is always touching to see so many people who bring flowers and keep Dalida's memory alive in their hearts and minds.

Authored Kevin:  Adventure thru Lens in Paris

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wedding Photo Shoot in Ireland

Wedding Portrait in County Armagh

I recently had a wonderful trip back to Ireland the country I love and sometimes miss since leaving it's shores in 2004. I will quickly add though that I am consoled with the beauty of Paris and the charm of it's boulevards and their multicultural and colourful inhabitants.

The purpose of my trip was to shoot the wedding of Paul and Charlene near the town of Keady surrounded by the rolling hills of Co. Armagh. The weather was unseasonably dry and pleasantly warm, which added to the happy occasion. The church was beautifully adorned with many varieties of colourful and sweet smelling flowers, aroma therapy at its best. The reception was held at the Carrickdale hotel near Newry, where we shot the group pictures in the  well maintained and manicured gardens. Charlene's dress was a full length white gown with a full flowing veil which made for some great shots in the woods next to the lake in Castleblaney. As the sun was high and bright some fill flash had to be used, but I succeeded in keeping it invisible.

The wind helped me out with some of the poses, and Charlene was a wonderful bride who really enjoyed her day.

If you go down to the woods this is what you might find. 

Written by Kevin - Paris Tour and Wedding Photographer

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Enthusiasm during Winter in Paris

Muses d'Orsay

So far this year my Paris photo tours have thankfully been attended by enthusiastic photographers, and many of them have kept in contact with me and it is very satisfying and encouraging to get such positive feedback about their newfound inspiration since taking the tour. Even though Paris has a long cold and wet winter, it is these conditions that get us thinking outside the box and of course out of our comfort zone.

The results have been impressive so far! And the people on our tours with the point and shoots have discovered that they don't need the latest equipment and a bag full of lenses to make great art. It's good to be reminded that it's our eyes that give our point of view.

Paris I love!