Sunday, February 24, 2013

Anniversary Celebration Giveaway ~ Winner(s) Revealed!

Thank you everyone who entered and shared the news regarding the giveaway.  I've enjoyed reading about everyone's bucket list of places they would like to go photograph <3  They all sound wonderful <3  The giveaway has come to an end, but here comes the good news of who are the TWO winners! (yes, I decided to have two :)

1) Dan W.
2) Chanel S.

I will be in contact with you to see which puzzle you would like and to get your address so I can ship them out.  The three puzzles pictured here are available and ready to ship.  If you would like one with a different photo, just let me know which one and I will order it.

Silhouetted Bird just after Sunrise
ISO 100 ~ 300mm ~ f/7.1 ~ 1/1000 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Thank you all for entering and being a part of the giveaway.  I am honored and blessed to have your support and involvement!  If you are interested in purchasing a puzzle, they are $25 and can be made with any photo you see on ETSY or Facebook.

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie Avila

PS ~ I will do another giveaway when Traveling Hearts Photography FB page reaches 100 likes, so please share!!

PSS ~ The winners were randomly chosen through the Rafflecopter website.  I had no part in it other then clicking a button that said "choose winner" :)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Manual Tutorial #3 ~ ISO

I can be honest with you, right?  I'm about to admit something completely embarrassing and you have every right to laugh at me.  Back in the film days, I always thought the number on the film was how good the film was.  Perhaps it was because a higher ISO film always cost more, so I just assumed it was "better"?!?  I would purposefully choose film that was 400 or 800 and then wonder why my photos were grainy.  Granted if I were shooting indoors, that would have been a good choice.  But the majority of my photos were taken outdoors on bright sunny days... yeah, totally not necessary to have that high of an ISO.

ISO is not a higher quality of film, but rather how sensitive the film (or digital sensor) is to light.  In the film days you were limited to choosing one ISO number for your entire roll of film.  Now with DSLR's we have the option to change our ISO at our whim and desire.  ISO has gone from a thorn in my side to being my best friend.  It is the easiest of the three components of exposure to understand, but it is also the most important (in my opinion).  When you fully embrace and understand ISO your creative opportunities will open up.

The higher the ISO number, the higher the sensitivity to light.  Think about being in a dark room with one small light on.  If you wanted to capture anything in your photo other than a black room, you will need to have a high ISO number.  By putting up your ISO, your camera is more sensitive to light and you will be able to see more in the photograph.

The lower the ISO number, the lower the sensitivity to light.  Think about being walking outdoors on a really sunny day, WITHOUT sunglasses ~ yeah...  You are going to squint your eyes so tightly, they may as well be shut completely.  This is the same thing with ISO... You would want a lower ISO number (100 or 200 usually).  This makes your camera less sensitive to light.

Sounds good, right?  Well, here is the catch... Yes when you raise up that ISO you are able to see much more in the photograph, but that means more digital "noise" or "grain" in your photos.  There are ways to process some of it out through computer software ~ but often times it is just the price you pay.

Comparison of Different ISO Settings

Look at the comparison of these three photos.  Can you see the grain (noise) in the yellow background?   How about the black of the police officer's uniform?  In the first photo it is solid black but by the time you get to the last photo it is pixelated and spotty.  Do you see any other differences between the photos?

I am going to take this a step further and give a few different examples.  Lets look at the chart I used in Tutorial #2 again.

All three componenets of exposure intersect and affect each other.  When you change one, you have to also adjust the other parts in order to have a perfectly exposed photograph.  One of the reasons why you would adjust the ISO is to have a higher shutter speed.  For example, say you are taking a photograph of your child indoors.  If you were going to have a perfectly exposed photograph, that would put your shutter speed lower than you can handhold it (remember 1/60th of a second is the lowest you want to handhold it ~ any lower and you really need to have it on a tripod.)  In order to take this photo without pulling out the tripod, you decide to raise your ISO.  By raising your ISO, you are able to also raise your shutter speed.  Problem solved.

A general rule of thumb is that you really don't want to have your ISO higher than 400.  Any higher than that and you will begin to see noise in your photos.  But you can make that decision in the moment as to what is more important.  Sometimes there is just not enough time to pull the tripod out.  Or you have the time to pull out the tripod, but your "subject" won't stay still... causing blur in your photos.  By raising your ISO you are able to have a shutter speed high enough to freeze the action.

Homework for Tutorial 3:

1) If you haven't already done this, locate where ISO is on your camera and how to change it.  Pull out your owner's manual and get comfortable with it. 

2) Put your camera in "P" mode.  This will figure out all your settings for you, but you can adjust the ISO and a few other things.  Don't get comfortable here (remember our goal is to be in Manual Mode), this is just for now...  Put your ISO to 100 and see what settings your camera says.  Write them down.  Then change your ISO to 400.  Look at your settings again and write those down as well.  Look at how they compare.  Go ahead and write your settings in the comments below along with any other observations you may have.

I hope this is starting to make a little sense, but if it isn't don't worry, you are not alone!  If you have any questions at all, PLEASE comment, email, message me.  I am here to walk you through this and help you understand these concepts in any way that I can!

If you haven't yet entered the giveaway ~ look to the upper right hand corner of the blog (it won't show up on mobile devices) and click to enter.  You have a chance to win a FREE puzzle featuring a photo by Traveling Hearts Photography.

Continue forward to Shutter Speed

Capturing the Moment,

Monday, February 18, 2013

to be or not to be....

Perfectionism is something I've always struggled with.

It has always taken me longer to memorize something or to understand a concept.  I usually have to fight for it.  But there is a fine line between working hard to become better and working obsessively to become perfect.

Since I spent my college years pursuing Social Work rather than photography, I did not get the formal training that other photographers have had the privilege of experiencing.  I am quite stubborn though and whenever I am trying to figure something out, I will keep working at it until I get it.  Since I had to teach myself how to speak "camera," I also have spent a lot of time critiquing my own work.  Now every time I make a mistake, I study it, learn from it, and choose to do better the next time.  But in all of this, I also am now being quite critical of my work as a whole.  When I see a photo, I see all the things wrong in it rather than the parts of it that are beautiful.

Don't get me wrong, being critical of our work is what makes us better photographers.  But there is a fine line between being critical for the sake of growth and being critical in an effort to achieve perfectionism.

Macro Photograph of a Single Snowflake
ISO 400 ~ 60mm ~ f/5.0 ~ 1/40 sec
© Corrie M Avila

When I originally took this photograph of a snowflake, I almost trashed it.  It was not what I wanted.  I had an image in my mind and this did not meet my expectations.  There is nothing wrong with the photo from a technical standpoint, it just did not meet my artistic expectations.  In an effort to fulfill this weeks Paint the Moon 52 project titled "Negative Space," I went ahead and processed this snowflake photo and submitted it.  Much to my surprise, I have gotten insane amounts of positive feedback from this photograph.  And this was something that I was ready to throw out...

This applies to more than just photography... In life we need to work hard, learn well, and practice constantly... We need to be critical for the sake of growth but not lean so far over that we begin expecting perfection.  This is just a setup for failure and disappointment.

I am learning, I am growing, and I am trying really hard to look at my photographs with both a photographer's eye, but also with the eye of an art aficionado.

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

PS ~ If you haven't yet entered the giveaway -> Look to the upper right hand portion of the blog.  Make sure to get your free entries in!  The giveaway ends next Sunday (2/24/13)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Anniversary Celebration Giveaway!

After combining the results from the poll on Facebook as well as the poll here, the item most people wanted to see for the giveaway is a puzzle!  The winner will be able to choose their puzzle from the following three choices:

Staten Island Ferry, NYC

Frangipani Bloom after a Rain Shower
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fisheye View of Downtown NYC 
From the Empire State Building

If you are the winner and would rather a different photo made into a puzzle, I would be more than happy to do that as well.  Just check out ETSY or Facebook and let me know which one you would like.

Each puzzle features Traveling Hearts Photography artwork.  It is a 285 piece puzzle that is packaged in a box that measures 5x7in.  The completed puzzle measures 12"x16.5".

All you have to do is look to the right of this blog post and complete your entries into the giveaway.  You have the opportunity to earn 6 entries!  This giveaway is open from now until 2/24 at 12am.  If you are on a mobile device, you will have to switch to web view to see the giveaway box.

In addition, if the Traveling Hearts Photography facebook page can get to 100 "likes" by the end of this giveaway, I will host another giveaway (of something different!)  So please share!!

Thank you for all your love, support, and involvement <3  It has been a fantastic year and I am looking forward to all that the next year has in store!

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Friday, February 15, 2013

Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival Bloom Watch 2013

Updated Bloom Schedule Prediction from the National Park Service (blog updated 3/21/13)

When I think of Spring, I think of Cherry Blossoms framing the Tidal Basin in Washington DC.  Last Spring was the 100th Anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC and I had the privilege of being able to photograph the blossoms in their peak bloom.  This was something on my bucket list of places to photograph and it surpassed every dream that I could have imagined.

The most important thing to know is that the cherry blossoms do not necessarily bloom during the Cherry Blossom Festival.  Washington DC sets up the dates for the festival almost a year in advance, but the blooming of the cherry blossom trees is based strictly on the weather and how early or late Spring comes.  Last year the cherry blossoms bloomed very early with a peak bloom on March 20th.   I cannot tell you how many people stopped and asked me where the cherry blossoms were two and three weeks after they bloomed.

Here are 5 Tips so that you can capture your own amazing and breathtaking Washington DC Cherry Blossom photographs.

Tip #1
Watch the Bloom Watch

ISO 100 ~ 135mm ~ f/5.7 ~ 1/80 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Aside from driving by the Tidal Basin every few days to see the progress of the buds, there is a website that I used last year that is invaluable!  The National Park Service posts a bloom watch for the Cherry Blossom Trees along the Tidal Basin.  You can see the averages for the past few years.  As soon as the trees start to bud, they will begin entering those dates and you will be able to start predicting about when the blooms will be in peak bloom.  There is also a webcam that you can see how the trees look without setting foot into DC.

Tip #2
Best Time to Photograph the Blossoms

ISO 100 ~ 28mm ~ f/6.4 ~ 1/125 sec
© Corrie M Avila

The best time to photograph the blossoms is at sunrise.  You have to arrive before the sun comes up ~ seriously.  If you want to see the sunset over the cherry blossoms, by all means, go and see it ~ but don't expect to get any fantastic photographs because there are MILLIONS of other people there doing the same thing.  The best time to go is sunrise.  If you are patient and plan your shots well, you will be able to get some nice photos without people in them.  You will also get that nice lighting that makes the blossoms glow.

Tip #3
What to Wear

ISO 100 ~ 35mm ~ f/6.4 ~ 1/60 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Dress appropriately for the weather.  I made the H.U.G.E. mistake of wearing sandals when I went last year because the temps were forecasted to be in the 50's.  It was foggy, drizzly, and very very wet.  My feet were cold, wet, and damp and I will never do that again.  It is always colder and windier around the National Mall or the Tidal Basin.  Trust me on this one, you want to make sure you have comfortable and closed toed shoes along with a warm enough sweater or jacket.

Tip #4

ISO 100 ~ 14mm ~ f/7.0 ~ 1/50 sec
© Corrie M Avila

When photographing the blossoms, think about how you can frame the photo.  Can you use the branches of the blossoms to border the Lincoln Memorial?  How about using the natural curvature of the basin in your photo as a leading line?  It can be overwhelming trying to capture the vastness of the cherry blossoms in a single photograph, so try to isolate one idea/area and focus on that first.  Many times when you start with a small focus area and work your way out, you'll have captured the essence of the location.

Tip #5
Watch where you are Going!

ISO 125 ~ 28mm ~ f/5.7 ~ 1/40 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Some of these trees are the original planted trees from 100 years ago.  In their senior years, the tree trunks have begun to reach out towards the water.  WATCH OUT FOR LOW TREE LIMBS!  They actually have signs posted that say this... I even took a photo of one of the signs :)  And then later I proceeded to walk directly into a tree limb that left stars in my eyes and a bump on my head.  You also need to watch where you are walking.  I know this may seem like a silly statement, but there is a large area of the basin that is not fenced and if you are not watching where the edge is ~ you and your camera will be going for a nice cold and icy dip.  Thankfully, I managed to avoid this!

final thoughts....

When I think back to my time out photographing the cherry blossoms, it stirs up the best memories.  I picture myself laying down in the grass under a cherry blossom tree, looking up, and having the petals falling on me like a soft and fragrant rain <3 <3 <3

Me <3
ISO 100 ~ 28mm ~ f/4.0 ~ 1/50 sec
© Corrie M Avila

This winter seems to be following the track of last year.  It has been unseasonably warm and it looks like Spring will come a little earlier again.  So if I were to guess, I would say that the blossoms will most likely bloom around the same time table that they did last year (March 20th).  But really, all that is, is a guess.  If you are making plans to come for the festival, you can find all the dates, times, and info here.  If you are trying to come to see the cherry blossoms in peak bloom, you may need to be a little flexible and make sure to do your homework.  If you can catch the blossoms in their peak bloom, it is an experience you will never forget!

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

PS ~ All the photos you see above are available for sale ~ please contact me if interested ~

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Traveling Hearts Photography turns "1" this month!  I am amazed at how far the business has come in just a year.   I will be doing a giveaway later in the month, but wanted to take a poll on what everyone would like to see as the giveaway gift.  Please take a moment and vote using the poll on the right side of the screen.  I will be posting more details in the next week or two regarding the giveaway.

My Two Boys
ISO 200 ~ 28mm ~ f/11 ~ 1/320 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

just how safe are we?

This blog post has been swimming around in my head for weeks, but it certainly did not have the tragic ending that it now has.  In light of recent news surrounding a fellow Instagrammer's murder in Istanbul, I felt compelled to write this now rather than later.

In this digital age we live in, more and more cyber relationships are forming.  From fan pages on Facebook, to twitter accounts, and even on Instagram.  Now that GPS location seems to be attached to everything, it is easier and easier to see where someone has been or is currently.  And I'll be honest, it creeps me out.

I personally have my cell phone location service turned off so that when I post photos, it doesn't say where that photo was taken.  I don't want people on Facebook knowing that I was just at the Washington Monument ten minutes ago or that I am currently walking underneath the shadow of the Empire State Building.

My Instagram Feed
© Corrie M Avila

I have recently gotten into Instagram and have enjoyed the community of people on there.  I also love that I can see images taken from around the world at the touch of a finger.  This speaks deeply to my traveler's heart.  But I've started seeing these things on Instagram called "Instameets."  It is where someone organizes to meet other Instagrammers at a designated location and time and they go off and take photos together.  It sounds like a good idea in concept and is tempting.... but I just can't shake the creepiness factor of it all.  All it takes is one weirdo and suddenly a very innocent event can turn deadly.

Two weeks ago, some of my photographer friends on Instagram started posting photos of a missing Instagrammer.  Her name is Sarai Sierra and she goes by the Instagram name of @memyself_sarai.  She is from Staten Island, NY and went missing on a trip she took to Istanbul.

After missing for a 12 days, her body was found near the ancient city walls and autopsy reports have confirmed that she died from a blow to the head.  She leaves behind a grieving husband and two young sons who have yet been informed that their mother has passed away.

Now this could be a robbery gone wrong, but there are reports floating around that insinuated Sarai was going to meet someone from Instagram on the day she disappeared.  The truth is that they don't know what really happened to lead to this tragic event.

All I can say, is be smart, be wise, and cover your tracks.  Involvement in the cyber world is almost a necessity these days, but be smart about it.  Don't post your locations or specifics about where you will be.  Be smart about traveling alone, especially if you are a woman.  Be cautious about meeting up with people you don't know.  All I can think about is those two boys who may be finding out at this exact moment that their mom is not coming home...

Check out Sarai's photo feed on Instagram.  Her photos are inspiring and have now become her legacy.  Her family has set up a site where you can purchase her photos on Instacanvas and the proceeds are going to her funeral.

Be Safe, Be Smart ~ your life is more important than a photograph <3

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Related Articles:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Felt Heart Tutorial just in time for Valentine's Day!

I am honored to have the opportunity to Guest Blog today at Delighting in Today with Jenna and Sarah!

Please come check out my  Felt Heart Garland Tutorial and learn how to make this yourself!  And while you are visiting Delighting In Today, check out the rest of their blog, they've got some other good DIY ideas, inspiration, and thriftiness.

Felt Heart Garland
ISO 200 ~ 28mm ~ f/11 ~ 1/320 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Let me know what you think about the tutorial and if you decide to try it out, I'd love to see your projects!

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3