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Mother Nature often stages wondrous events for us to see. One of these arrived today.

Those of us who arose early on this crisp Michigan morning had a perfectly clear sky to witness a full lunar eclipse. I peeked out my bedroom window and against a dark, black backdrop viewed a single bright orb slowly become a silhouette behind the earth’s shadow.

To get an better look, free of trees and leaves, I headed to my office a few blocks away to take in the magic show from an unobstructed balcony.

Once there, I grabbed a camera, a long lens and a tripod.

Here’s the lovely scene that graced the western sky.
 




here is where we’re just about approaching the full eclipse

as the moon settles toward the horizon, daylight is starting to lighten the sky

Here, the sun has awakened and brightened up the sky.

At this juncture the trees are starting to interrupt our view and we’re about to loose sight of the moon.

The sky gazers further west, perhaps in Nebraska or Colorado, are able to view the next stage – the unveiling of the moon as the earth shadow recedes from the sun’s path.


 
 
I thoroughly enjoyed the sights. In case you missed this morning’s, we’ll be treated to another lunar eclipse in April 2015.

What a wonderful way to start the day! Thanks again to Mother Nature for a fine performance.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 

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Having grown up in the late 60s, I was excited to learn that one of my contemporaries – James Taylor – was going to be performing in Grand Rapids on March 8th. I anxiously waited for tickets to go on sale, but they were quickly sold out in less than an hour. Fortunately, I found two available last minute tickets through StubHub so I was still in luck.

Through the years, I’ve done my fair share of event photography. But nowadays when I go to a concert or show, I’m usually attending as a spectator and not as a working photographer with a press pass. Since one of my hobbies is to collecting pictures of celebrities, I continue to take a small camera with me – just in case.

Typically, show venues are a mixture of dark backgrounds with strong spotlights. For effect, the performers are often “creatively lit” (read dimly). This stage lighting makes for a very contrasty scene.

So the challenge is to be able to use the theater’s available light to capture the performers. Flash is a no-no.

 

Wait for the right moment
Arnold McCuller

Although my camera is set for dim lighting (ISO is set to 1600), the dim lighting forces a slow shutter speed – in this case about 1/25 second. Here the performer is moving slightly so I end up with a blurred image. Performer: Arnold McCuller

Arnold McCuller

The solution to the blurred image is to carefully watch the performer and snap when he/she is in a more or less stationary position. With a little practice, you’ll be able to anticipate the times when the performer is positioned like a statue.

Adjust the exposure
James Taylor

Most cameras determine the exposure by averaging the amount of light in a scene. On a dark stage with bright spotlights, the camera is usually “fooled” by the darkness. This overexposure causes the brightly lit faces to be washed out. Performer: James Taylor

James Taylor

To prevent the his face from being washed out, I set the camera to reduce the exposure. For this shot, I used the camera’s exposure compensation to make a -2 (f/stop) adjustment. Although his guitar is darker, his face is now properly exposed.

 

For stage performances, you can use relatively inexpensive equipment. On this occasion I used a Canon SX210 IS point-and-shoot which has a 14X optical lens. Our seats were fairly close – the seventh row – but the lens allowed me to zoom in to grab a decent shot.

Just a quick note about courtesy: The auditorium was filled to the brim. Everyone paid for tickets with their hard-earned money so I go out of my way to keep as unobtrusive as possible when taking photos. I’m careful not to put my camera in front of another spectator and to be silent as I snap (usually a menu selection for “silent mode”). They are there for the performance, not to be disturbed by a rude and noisy picturetaker.

And since my real reason for being at the concert was to hear the performance, I make sure that I get to enjoy the music without being overly preoccupied with my camera. And by the way, the performance was great!

You can see more celebrity photos from my hobby celebrity collection here.

 

Written by Arnie Lee

 


Descending on Las Vegas

02nd December 2010

In years gone by, November was the time to travel to Comdex, the huge COMputer DEaler eXhibition. For as long as it was alive – some 25 years, I attended the Comdex Expo in Las Vegas.

Although the last Comdex took place in 2003, I’ve continued to travel to Las Vegas to analyze and discuss the publishing business with two of my closest friends. Lest you think these trips are gambling junkets, we actually visit lots of mass merchandise, retail and book stores to gauge the products, trends and competition. And most of us don’t gamble at the tables – the publishing business is a big enough gamble.

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Well, this November was a little different. Due to other pressing issues, my two friends were unable to make it to Las Vegas this year. Not wanting to cancel my plane reservations and forfeit the airfare, I decided to turn the 4-1/2 day jaunt into a series of mini photo trips. Armed with a couple of cameras, a notebook computer and an iPad, I once again descended on Las Vegas.

Wine tasting notes

10th September 2010

I’ve been a wine lover for some years now. And I’ve had the good fortune to have been treated to and enjoyed some very wonderful wines with close friends.

The trouble is that I’m not real good about remembering all of the great tasting wines that I’ve pleasured – at least not off the top of my head. At first this was troublesome for me as I struggled to recall the names and vintages. I often jotted the wine info on the back of a paper napkin and collected them in the pocket of my suit coat. Then I’d forget about the wine tasting notes until the next time I wore that suit and stuck my hand in the pocket.
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Event Tip #2

13th June 2010

For me, Gordon Lightfoot’s music tells interesting stories while his soothing melodies and talented guitar-playing have kept my attention for more than 40 years. With camera in hand, we went to hear him perform again in concert at the lovely DeVos Hall here in Grand Rapids.

Concerts and Stage Productions

Concerts and stage productions are most often set against very dark backgrounds such as this one. Since the camera sets the exposure by averaging the amount of light in a scene, a brightly lighted face is often overexposed.


The easiest way to prevent the performer’s face from being washed out is to reduce the exposure. For this shot, I used the camera’s exposure compensation to make a -2 (f/stop) adjustment. The face is now clearly visible.

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Nightlife Tip #1

03rd August 2009

Bright lights against a dark background often create attractive and exciting scenes. Here’s a simple tip for making your nightlife photos appear tack sharp.

Bright Lights of Broadway (or elsewhere)


You may be surprised to know that many night scenes have an abundance of light. A dark background can often fool us and the camera’s exposure metering too. In this photo, the haze surrounding the marquee is caused by overexposure.


To make the scene and theater marquee appear without the haze, I’ve used the camera adjustments to provide less exposure. For this shot, I’ve dialed back the exposure by -2 stops, making the lettering appear sharp.

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