The First Photography Class

The First Photography Class

Sunrise, Grand Teton Mountain Range, from Snake River Overlook, Wyoming

Sunrise, Grand Teton Mountain Range, from Snake River Overlook, Wyoming

I'm not into public speaking. I'm far more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. But last month I gave my first photography workshop on a subject that I'm passionate about– landscape photography. I love nothing more than to hike outdoors, far from computers, phones and with a camera in hand.

Last Spring, the people at Out of Chicago photography workshops learned about me from seeing my books online and in the stories in Bar Harbor, Maine. A flurry of emails followed and I ended up being booked to speak at a workshop in Maine this October. But before that, they had me come out to talk to a packed room of photographers at the College of Lake County in Grayslake.

Despite my nerves, I had a great time and everyone seemed to learn something. Now that it's done, I'm wondering if I might try to find some other venues to speak at between now and October. Email me if you have any suggestions for me.

The new 2017 MHP Website

The new 2017 MHP Website

My first website went live in 1996– galleries of color, black and white and hand colored prints of my fine art images. It was pretty simple- small photos (375 pixels wide) that could load relatively quickly on dialup connections and was 'optimized' for Netscape 2.0. For several years, it was great. The internet was new and people would comment on my photos from all over the world. I sold prints to complete strangers thousands of miles away.

A lot has changed in the last twenty-one years. All my photography is digital now. Pictures aren't even delivered on CD, but in folders of images deliverable via the web. I'm shooting far more video than I ever was back in the 90's.

My most recent commercial photography website was written by hand (I did all the coding and hated it) a few years ago and becoming dated. The software I used hasn't been supported in years. So it was time for a change.

This new website will be updated far more frequently, along with stories of jobs I've been working on, some of my favorite shoots from the past, video clips and more. The pictures are now full screen and beautiful– no more tiny pictures.

I hope you enjoy the new look. Email me if you'd like a quote for a job, and pass on my name to your colleagues and friends.

Thanks for your support. Mike 

The NEW MHP Blog

The NEW MHP Blog

For the last three or four years, I've maintained my blog at The Adventures of Mike's Camera. Now, with the new reworking of my website, the blog will be hosted and maintained right here. If you'd like to read some of my older posts, check out the old blog before I re-post many of those stories here over the next few months.

Lighting Challenge: Hotel Room

Lighting Challenge: Hotel Room

The finished picture- twenty images combined into one

The finished picture- twenty images combined into one

We've all seen them. Pictures of hotel rooms that look so appealing we want to spend a night in one of those comfy beds. We usually don't give a thought to how the picture was made... or created. But a lot of work goes into lighting rooms to make them so enticing. Photographers have tricks like placing small but powerful little flash units in the lamp bulb sockets, or using high dynamic range (HDR) photography to bring out more detail in the shadows and highlights. I do it a little differently though, and the technique works to great effect.

Last summer I spent several days shooting a couple hotels in Bar Harbor, Maine to advertise them on the web, in brochures and in print. We shot the restaurants, the lobbies, the pools, the beautiful views, the spa and of course, there were several rooms to shoot. Typically, I'd prefer to bring in my portable studio lighting and place several lights around the room and really light it well. But by the end of the week, we were running out of time to do it that way. I had to leave town and the client wanted to get a couple more rooms in before we wrapped up the week's shooting. There was just no time to unpack the lights and set them up. So I was forced to improvise.

First, I began by choosing the best place to set up my camera and tripod, a spot that would show off the best features of the room- the beds, the balcony and sliding glass doors, not to mention the nice color scheme inspired by the ocean view out the window. In short, it had to look appealing for guests to want to book a few nights.

Then I got out my portable flash, attached it to a small light stand and wired the flash to a radio slave unit that would fire the flash from the camera, from anywhere in the room. I got my client to stand by the camera and take pictures as I moved about the room, using the small flash to light different areas of the room– the dresser, the head boards, the end of the bed, the top of the bedspread, the pillows, etc. I took twenty photos in all. We were done in under seven minutes.

Back in my office, I loaded all twenty images into my computer, made some adjustments in Lightroom, then exported them as one big, layered TIFF file in Photoshop. That's when the work really began. Each picture showcased a different part of the room that was lit by my flash– the pillows, the carpet, etc. By brushing out everything but the nicely lit areas of each photo, I eventually ended up with a beautifully lit picture of the room. What looks like a single picture of the room is really the best parts of all twenty combined into one.

Would I prefer to shoot rooms this way, in minimal time with lots of post processing afterwards? No, but in this case the situation called for it and I really wanted to get the images done for my client before I had to leave town.

I'd highly recommend staying at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel in Bar Harbor, Maine. Great people and a beautiful place to stay.