Brendan Taylor Filice

Photography & the Outdoors

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5 Tips for Becoming a Better, More Thoughtful Photographer| Brendan Taylor Filice

5 Tips for Becoming a Better, More Thoughtful Photographer

5 Tips for Becoming a Better, More Thoughtful Photographer| Brendan Taylor FiliceEarnestness, uncapped passion, and curiosity tend to produce incredible photos. The ability to point a lens at a person and capture their soul, or point it at an item and capture its presence is a skill that not everyone has, but it is something that every hopeful photographer can aspire to.

For some, photography is a just method by which they plug self-indulgent images and snapshots into various online networks, and for everyone else, photography is a visual art form. It’s a practice that’s realized through art and science, through the meaningful application of electromagnetic radiation and recorded light.

Photography is the ability to create durable images, and its existence services businesses, recreation, hobbies, communication, and the art, film, and video production industries. There are many ways you can inspire the creative photographer within, including discovering what things excite you and spark your creative juices.

Read a Book

Your first thought may be to pick up a photography book, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, attempt to seek out all types of content. Regard images you read in poetry, fiction, non-fiction and comics, and imagine what that work would look like. Do this while considering some of the techniques you’ve come across when examining the word of the greats.

Go on an Adventure

The thought of capturing things close to home may seem boring or mundane, so go elsewhere. Pack your bags and go on a trip. Take a weekend trip upstate with your camera out. Walk rural or mountainous terrain with your eyes and camera scanning the horizon, and attempt to capture that unfiltered beauty with your camera. Do this early, when the light is brightest and can offer you crisp photos of scenery.

Edit, Edit, Edit

Don’t settle for a photo and say good enough. Instead, keep your eyes open and stay critical. If you find a flaw during your post-photography editing session, consider using a different image or crop it. Follow your strength and abandon weakness. Find what works for you, and walk that line closely. Always feel open to experimentation, but don’t be defined by momentarily laziness or mediocrity.

Submission

One you’ve developed some pride in your work, consider submitting to a publication or competition. There are countless opportunities available to aspiring photographers. Both publications and competitions can lead to compensation –meaning that you’d be a professional photographer!

Design a Photographic Project

Rather than absentmindedly snapping photos, design a year-long project where you can focus your attention. Of course, you can stray from this a do break away projects but create a content creation schedule for yourself that will allow you to hone your skills. If you’re interested in portraits, then set a plan to search for attractive faces and gather a collection. Experiment with location, with intention, with execute -but make sure that the photo set is cohesive. Another possible project: consider visiting the same place over a long period, and take a picture a different time of day, capturing the evolving mood of that setting.
There are some other things you can do to improve your skill, including looking at light, considering composition and form, learning your camera settings, playing with color temperature, and learning how to use great editing software, such as Lightroom. You can also visit with a community of other visual artists interested in critiquing and improving one another’s work. These tips will help to develop your photographic style and voice.

nico young brendan filice

The Internet of Things and its Influence on Photography

Aaccording to Internet.org’s whitepaper, people uploaded 350 million images to Facebook each day in 2013. That’s a lot of pictures.

Now, imagine all of the images uploaded in Instagram every hour. Think about the tourists in New York photographing the Statue of Liberty. Think about tourists in India photographing the Taj Mahal, or in Brazil with Christ the Redeemer. In fact, think of all the iconic places around the world getting photographed and shared every second. There are so many images, and now think about all of the images of the past; the forgotten family snapshots, sometimes found as relics at thrift shops in piles. There are billions of photographs in the world, and now there will be exponentially more thanks to technology.

Technology is a tool that allows to experiment. Within the field, photographers take risks you couldn’t afford with film. It was too expensive and precise.

What is the role of photography in the digital age?

Our lives continue to become ever more connected. In that process, cameras will find their place in the “Internet of Things,” the coherent ecosystem of electronics that we use to help define our new technological existence. As more and more people use images to communicate on an everyday level, who knows how our world will change?

One of the inherit challenges about these changes is that photographer in the digital age makes everyone a professional. With a high-end camera and the right subject, great pictures are waiting to happen everywhere you go. You no longer need a teacher to guide you through the process of film processing and the terms of aperture, exposure, saturation, and so on.  Digital photography also makes photography accessible and affordable to everyone. Even ordinary iPhones have high-tech cameras and built-in editing software. Now anyone can shoot quality images, edit them and share them.

However, great photography still requires the same hard work as it was in the past. It requires dedication, patience, creativity. In our new world of virtual reality and augmented reality, the best photographic artists must be willing to react to audiences who demand sophisticated imagery that is dynamic and responsive to change.

nico young brendan filice

And maybe the next revolution in photography isn’t all about technology. Maybe it’s about what we see right in front of our eyes and how we show it. One of the best works this year was from Nico Young, whose collection of images about his friends, fraternal twins, was featured in the New York Times magazine. You can see “Inside Santa Monica High” online, see  “Fraternal Twins.”

Whether you’re a more traditional photographer or one who enjoys the latest gear and gadgets, good photography is still the same. It’s documenting the present by producing an artistic interpretation of it. So part of you has to be a dedicated artist to be a professional.

 

Speaking of Instagram..you can follow Brendan @brendanfilice. Find more writing at brendanfilice.wordpress.com

brendan taylor filice october photos 8

Why Photography Inspires Me

Brendan Taylor Filice writes about the inspiration of photography and why landscape photography provides a powerful sense of place.

Brendan Filice Photography Paso Robles California 4

Brendan Filice’s favorite subjects to photograph come right from nature. Whether the sun rising and setting, or the ocean tides setting out at the end of the day, a landscape’s beauty is impossible to ignore.

Here are some of Brendan’s favorites from his collection.

Brendan Filice Photography: Driving through Mammoth

This  frame is created by the contrast of the industrial arc of the underpass with the distant horizon. The beautiful bright sunlight is countered by the darkness of the tunnel.

Brendan Filice Photography Mammoth 3 copy

Hopefully generations and generations will have the opportunity to relish these splendors of nature. If we neglect the needs of our precious planet, our climate will definitely be in danger. We risk the future of these beautiful vistas. They will be nothing but distant memories, photographs from the past.

Brendan Filice Photography Laguna Beach 3

Landscape photography deftly captures a sense of place. It evokes feelings, such as memories of hiking in the woods as a young child or a beach vacation.

Anyone can be a photographer. Even if you’re an amateur photographer, personal photos will have an impact on you for your personal collection. The more photos you take, the more skills you’ll get with your camera.

For more on photography follow BrendanFilice.wordpress.com and see Brendan Filice’s photos on Flickr.

photography tips brendan taylor Filice

What’s The Most Important Thing About Photography?

 

The photographer.

 

The one taking the photographer is the most important mechanism of the tool. More important than the camera, is our perspective.

Check out Brendan Filice’s latest blog post on BrendanFilice.Wordpress.com.

Go On A Photography Adventure Brendan Filice

Go On A Photography Adventure

photography adventure brendan filice

We take pictures to show the places where we’ve gone. We look at photography to explore our innermost dreams; the luxurious hotels we want to stay in one day, the mountains we want to climb, the creatures around the world we hope to see with our own eyes.

I encourage everyone to go on an adventure, inspired by photography itself. Your camera will be your guide. Your camera will be your compass. Prepare your gear, pick a destination (short term or long term) and commit to dedicated exploration of your subject through your lens.

  1. Prepare

You’ll want to be diligent in choosing your gear.  It may be difficult to choose which camera gear to travel with. No one wants to miss out on that perfect shot because didn’t pack the right lens, but you definitely don’t want to overpack.  When you are trekking across a the dewy field, every additional ounce will way you down and start to distract you when you’re trying to shoot. So when preparing gear, keep size and weight to the lightest possible. Remember, lightweight doesn’t mean poor quality. You can get cameras that can still focus and shoot great photos.

Just as important as choosing your camera and is choosing the location. If you’re lucky to have a lot of time to take for a vacation, and can go internationally, you can start exploring options by searching photography destinations on Flickr and 500px.  Check out the map features that display pictures at popular destinations.  Narrow down the spots you want to travel to, analyze the captions of the images, and connect with users to get more tips on the place. My best advice is get to know as much as you can before jetting off. Guide books and travel blogs are good to get a reference of the area, but I recommend reaching out to bloggers and even photographers who have taken the same trip. These people are your best resources.

2. Pack light, but don’t forget the necessities

We’ve all had that moment where we run out of batteries or lose charge. Pack light but remember essential accessories such as batteries and tripods. Carry equipment in a camera-specific bag with padded inserts. A waterproof cover is also smart to keep on hand. It’s fun to take long exposure shots when you’re traveling in the open wilderness, but you’ll need a tripod to hold your camera in place. There’s a lot of work going into new mirrorless cameras recently. These cameras are gaining in popularity because they provide dSLR-like performance in a lighter and more compact package. They literally ditch the “mirror” and images are recorded directly onto the digital sensor; cameras tend to be loaded with new technology, such as WiFi uploads and mobile phone connectivity.

3. Say “Yes”

Vacation is for sleeping in, but it’s also ideal for beautiful early morning light. The magic hour is a special way to photograph your new destination.  Don’t miss the golden light and long shadows at twilight.Take advantage of the night (if the weather’s right) by setting up your tripod and slowing your shutter speed in order to capture mountainous or desert landscapes lit by the blue moon. One special destination is in the northern hemisphere, Iceland for example, where you just may catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis. It’s worth the wait.

 

Brendan Filice is the author of The Defining Images of Photojournalism. Follow him on Twitter and Quora.

Prince Albert the Educated Horse with school children. Pay Streak Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition: Seattle 1909

Best Photography Websites to Get Lost On for Hours

Prepare to get sucked into night-long binges on these awesome websites dedicated to appealing toward photographers and artists. In the days of photography of yore, publishing photographs required a wealth of materials (and personal connections) to get an audience in front of your images. Nowadays, seeking inspiration in images you connect with is just a click away. Most of us already check Tumblr and Flickr obsessively. But it’s good to get off of these platforms periodically to dive deeper into what artists are gaining a certain popularity in the internet art world.

 

So, what photography websites stand out from the rest?

Government Archives

ex slaves african american experience in ohio

Tap and Susie Hawkins, married ex-slaves in Springfield, OH. Image from the Ohio History Connection

 

Prince Albert the Educated Horse with school children. Pay Streak Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition: Seattle 1909

Prince Albert the Educated Horse with school children. Pay Streak Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition: Seattle 1909

That’s right, our government is the best curator of them all. Photography has proven its power in this country; influencing journalism and the course of history. The government hosts a variety of archives on its site linking to a plethora of images. These range to collections of African-American history (as ex-slaves in Ohio, pictured above) to a large collection of images of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, publicizing the development of the Pacific Northwest and showcased the famously trained horse Albert.

 

Booooooom

Booooooom started as Canadian Jeff Hamada’s curation project in the 2008, in the early days of similar sites like Tumblr. It’s writers cull the best works from up-and-coming artists around the world, listed in easy-to-navigate categories. It’s fun to explore and my favorite section is of course, the photography section.

Photographer Spotlight by Jeff Hamada: Susan Worsham

Photographer Spotlight by Jeff Hamada: Susan Worsham

 

Lisa Bettany

When, Vancouverian Lisa was 21-years with Olympic dreams on the horizon, she suffered a life-altering figure skating accident. A close friend loaned Lisa a camera as a creative coping mechanism. Photography brought ignited her passion to heal and see the world. Her main site, lisabettany.com, displays her accomplishments since. She has been featured in Elle and Wired among many other publications. Her work is pretty impressive.

Mareen Fischinger

Mareen Fischinger is a great role model for anyone working on developing their professional portfolio. She’s deft at combining an aesthetic eye with the vocational requirements her job as a photographer demands. All while displaying it on an awesome site.

The Gordon Parks Foundation

Harlem Gang Leader, 1948. Gordon Parks, Gordon Parks Foundation

Harlem Gang Leader, 1948. Gordon Parks, Gordon Parks Foundation

A simple search is often enough to find a collection of influential works. The Gordon Parks Foundation permanently preserves the work on their website’s archive of Civil Rights era photographer, film director, and writer, Gordon Parks.

Weegee

Another site that’s out there is Weegee’s archive, although a bit dated and unofficial. The best opportunity to find Weegee’s work is when his pieces are featured in galleries, but he was truly a master of capturing New York City at its strangest. Worth a peek.

 

Remember to follow me on Twitter for the latest updates.

 

brendan filice photography orange county 3

The Enigma of Sunset Shots

Everyday, photographers flock to the glistening seaside or to the edges of the city limits for the perfect capture of the sun descending on the horizon. In pursuit of the perfect shot of the waves crashing on the golden sand, or light licking man’s impressive steel towers, photos of the sunset capture an indescribable moment of time; of that day, yet of eternity.

Every day the massive, hot, faraway, mysterious sun dips below the horizon . For a few hours, it’s gone from our sight. The big billowing ball of energy that gives us nearly everything we depend on; energy, food, electricity, and so on; takes a rest.

It’s the role of the photographer to frame this moment. There is a communal missed breath we take as humans when the sun vanishes; thinking perhaps, where did it go? Who can see it now? As questions of philosophy and science filter through our curious minds, the photographer can capture the raw beauty emitted by the eternal beast of the sun.

The artist Penelope Umbrico, has developed several works on the subject. She believes the lure of sunset photography is not quite an complex as one may think.

Umbrico’s work questions the sun’s power to enhance collectivity.  For her project, she curated sunset photos from Flickr. Then, she cropped them to remove the surrounding context, whether it be the beach or a smiling portrait, leaving only the suns themselves. The resulting work is a vibrant collage that stands as a testament to our desire to preserve these “liminal moments as a social experience” as stated by Jonny Weeks in the Guardian.

Umbrico says “The sun is this incredibly powerful object, and there’s only one of them in our world,” she says. “The sun can kill us or give us health. It’s the symbol of enlightenment, it makes us happy – it’s phenomenal.”

Included are some of Brendan Filice’s images of the sunset, to add to the collective spirit of sharing our joy in the sun.

See the rest of Brendan’s images on Flickr.

kirkjufell mountains brendan filice

The World’s Most Picturesque Mountains

If you could photograph anything, what would you choose?

Mountains are ancient, awe-inspiring things. If I could take my camera all over the world, I would head right to the highest peaks all over the globe. Not only are these mountains aesthetically stunning, but people have gathered around epic peaks for millennia for sacred and spiritual reasons.

 

Brendan Filice’s pick of the fiften most picturesque mountains:
Mount Fuji, Japan
Mount Elbrus, Russia
Tabletop Mountain, South Africa
Mount Shasta, California
Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil
Mount Ararat, Turkey/Armenia
Matterhorn, Switzerland/Italy
Nevado Sajama, Bolivia
Galdhopiggen, Norway
Ama Dablan, Nepal
Mt. Kailiash, Tibet/China
Mount of the Holy Cross, Colorado
Harney Peak, South Dakota
Kirkjufell, Iceland
Patagonia Fitz Roy, Chile/Argentina

Ansel Adams Wilderness

A Beginner’s Guide to Nature Photography

Ansel Adams Wilderness

Ansel Adams, a landscape legacy

Do you find yourself using your iPhone to snap pictures of nearly everything you see? Do you run outside every time the sunsets to capture the perfect moment and share it with your friends?

Finding your inner photographer is exciting. However, many beginners find themselves overwhelmed with the culture and community that defines photography, especially nature photography.

So what are some things you ought to know once you decide you want to pursue photography as a serious hobby?

  • Megapixels: Starting with a camera between 6 and 8 megapixels is ideal for beginners. It’s easy to be tricked into thinking that more megapixels contributes to higher quality photos, but as long as it’s a high quality camera it is actually more efficient to stay within this range.
  • Digital SLR vs Point and Shoot?: A digital SLR camera is a heftier option that offers more advanced settings and albeit higher quality photos. This isn’t usually the best camera to start with as a complete beginner because it’s a pretty serious investment and requires a bit of an education to start using. However, exposure to using a basic point-and-shoot digital camera is good preparation for an eventual upgrade to a digital SLR.
  • Camera settings: On your digital camera, play around with the different settings. On most devices, you’ll find macro, landscape, and portrait. Macro is great for getting up, close, and personal with subjects such as flowers and small animals. Landscape settings are capable of capturing a wide image with a faraway subject.

Get to know yourself and your subject.

  • Do you want to photograph flowers and foliage close up with detail? Are you trying to capture animals in their natural habitat? Are you fascinated with massive landscape images of storms, sunsets, mountain ranges? All of these situations require you to use your camera in a different way.

Two components to consider:

Light

  • Learn how to read the light. Shooting directly into the sun (meaning your subject is “backlit)” is generally misguided. You don’t want distracting shadows, extreme contrast, or light in the animal’s eyes. 

Composition

  • What’s the best way to frame your photo? While you shouldn’t restrict your creativity to mathematical regiments, there are basic rules that will keep your composition following basic aesthetic guidelines.
  • Rule of Thirds: Draw 4 sets of lines to equally divided your frame into 9 equally sized rectangles. Where the lines intersect, trying placing your subject at the intersecting points.
  • Attract the eye: If the shot is too “busy,” your viewer will ultimately feel distracted and not enjoy your photograph.
  • I love Steve Coleman’s list of 100 Landscape Photographers Worth Knowing to reference when I need some guidance with my photos and for some inspiration.

I hope this guide gets you started!  Being able to capture the nature world on film (or digital..) is an amazing feeling.

Plus, there’s a big world of photography enthusiasts out there. Plus, now that digital sharing is so popular, like on Flickr, there’s an active community of photographers who are happy to share their skills with amateurs.

brendan taylor filice nature photo 1

The Peace of the Wild

In a 1986 book called The Solace of Open Spaces, Gretel Ehrlich declares,

“Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are.” 

I’m lucky to live in California.  The urban kingdom of LA aggressively crawls into into a steadfast competitor – ancient forces of nature.  When you spend just a few hours in the realm of California’s countryside, our human structures seem so much more fragile.  I got into photography because it’s a way to capture a brief moment in the present with an ancient, powerful force.

brendan taylor filice nature photo 1

Sunset over the Mountains

 

I’ve been going out on hikes ever since I can remember.  There’s something formative about going on an afternoon adventure; scraping past tree branches as you ascend toward a higher elevation, leaping on boulders, maybe losing your balance and landing clumsily on your hands on the tough rock.  You pass a field of wildflowers, blooming scarlet, gold, and periwinkle, early for the season. You hear some frenzied scurried – realizing it’s probably just a squirrel, but you’re always on the alert for something like coyotes or skunks.

The hours dwindle by.  Hunger creeps up on you.  But the brief hour of sunset to twilight is what makes the effort all worthwhile.  This is when I like to take my photos.  And I’m not alone; this golden hour is a popular time for photographers to capture the mystical light covering the landscape.

Their is an overwhelming peace to the wild. Some people don’t feel safe outdoors; there’s too many bugs, too much dirt, too much uncertainty.  But being away from our cities and technology forces us to connect with what’s really human. After a long day’s hike, you’ve consumed all the sites and sounds of the organic world. All of these experiences existed long before our fancy luxury cars and skyscrapers. There’s no better way to truly connect with yourself than to get outside.  For me, I can keep this peaceful moment by capturing it in a photograph.

 

Stay tuned for more photography in my next post.

 

 

 

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