blog

01Mar

Nature tip: Removing Flare from your outdoor shots

As I get my new online workshop class started this Friday, March 4th, through PPSOP.com (Perfect Picture School of Photography), I wanted to add a nice outdoor tip for everyone.

I often have people ask about how my photographs come out so crisp, so colorful, so clear, and often it’s from simply doing one thing; keeping flare out of my lens.

Flare is when the Sun, or any other light source, creeps into your camera through the front element of your lens, usually when you are pointing toward the light. I can happen with any lens although wide-angles can be more susceptible since they cover a wider field of view. We see flare in still images and video, digital or film-based. The visible artifacts from flare can cause your images to look hazy, lose color and contrast, or add hexagon or octagon-shaped rings resulting in a less than desirable outdoor photograph.

How do you know if you have flare? On occasion, you can see it through your camera’s viewfinder, easiest by toggling your hand in front of the Sun, then out, then blocking it again, to see if you notice a change in the scene. However, the best or most accurate way to see if you are you getting flare is to mount your camera on a tripod, then walk around the front to see if you notice the reflection of the Sun in the front of your lens. If you see the bright white specular source shining in your lens, you have some type of flare.

Can you simply shoot away from the Sun to avoid flare? You can, but it’s not always the best alternative to create a great shot. Here is a list of five ways to shoot toward the light while keeping flare out of your shots:

1) Don your Lens Hoods: Use your lens hoods whenever possible; I leave mine on most of my lenses almost permanently. This adds some protection to the front of the lens, shading it from the Sun.

2) Be Handy: One of the best methods of blocking any light from hitting the front element of your lens is your hand. Yes, you have to be careful from having it show up in your shots (one great way is to preview the photo on your back LCD screen after you capture it), but it can be highly effective. In fact, for some scenes where I’m shooting almost straight into the Sun, a long lens hood (such as the one I have on my 300mm lens) still doesn’t block the Sun; but extend my arm out and shade the lens with my hand and the color and contrast noticeably increases when looking through the viewfinder.

3) Take advantage of natural gobos: A gobo (as they are often referred to in most studio photography) is any object a photographer may use to block a light source from causing flare. I use black cards in the studio, but in the outdoors I will use a tree, a branch, a flower, a mountain, a rock, a cloud, a hiker, anything I can to block a large portion of the Sun. Another way to insure this is to make sure your camera is placed in the shadow of an object.
4) Avoid too many filters: The more external glass (filters) you add to your lens, the more chance you have of degradation or flare to your images. Filters can also stick out farther causing the lens hood to be less effective.
5) Purchase high-quality glass: This is a bit tougher since it truly deals with buying high-quality lenses, which in turn usually means a big dent in your wallet. But it’s true- the finer the glass, the less flare your will obtain. Sometimes, depending on the final scene you desire, they may be no way to avoid flare, for example, in the case where you may want the Sun in your composition. With some top-notch lenses, you can shoot straight into the Sun without hardly noticing flare, but those are rare and expensive pieces of gear.

Finally let me say sometimes deliberate use of flare can be okay. It takes some time and experience knowing when to leave it in and when to remove it, but flare can create a mood and a feel, so a potential mistake can be a welcome addition to a scene!

Join me for my new 4-week course on PPSOP.com called “Nature and Landscape photography“: http://www.ppsop.net/land.aspx
– 4 weeks
– 4 lessons
– 4 assignments
– 4 critiques
– along with Q&A, all leading to producing better nature and landscape images!

Happy shooting! Sean


29Jan

My Facebook fan page

Hey everyone- after writing 60,000 words for my second book last year (The Complete Guide to Nature Photography – coming out this fall), as well as a few articles (Outdoor Photographer – November 2010 – on Point Reyes), and typing many many paragraphs for online critiques, I haven’t been able to blog much.


But I always add my photos, happenings, fun photo links, etc to my Facebook fan page. Check it out – “like” it – invite your photo friends!


Happy Shooting!

01Mar

My photo segment on "The View From the Bay"


On Monday, February 23rd, had the pleasure of being on The View From the Bay – a wonderful afternoon San Francisco Bay Area show on KGO-TV Channel 7, hosted by Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang.


We did a five-minute segment on taking family photos like a pro – it went very well and was a blast to do!

We talked about taking great photos with any camera, and I showed 10 slides on how to easily improve your picture taking through simple techniques and fun camera functions.

We also discussed how critical backing up your digital images are- so important to do- and to do it with reliable drives like Lacie hard drives (great desktop and rugged mobile hard drives I’ve used for years in my business), as well as Delkin’s archival gold DVDs (for which I burn thousands of images on to for safe keeping – 100 year archival DVD discs).

I also showed how to display your images in fun ways through Apple’s iLife ’09/iPhoto program (showing an album we had printed from a trip to Disneyland), or buying wonderful archival albums with style from Kolo.com. Kolo also added the segment to their blog at Koloist.com – check it out (simply click on the link)!

When I came home and watched it, and I was jazzed- sometimes it’s hard to remember how things like that went (and sure I’d love to be 30 lbs less!) but I was very pleased how it flowed.

Crazy, it felt like it went a minute and a half, but turned out to be exactly 5 minutes long as we planned. I also received a message from another producer of a local CBS show on The CW (Bay Area focus), complimenting my segment. We booked another tv interview for the fall (sometime in November). I’ll add it here once we have firm dates.


The show and hosts of
The View From the Bay were pleased as well and I thank them for the opportunity- a great professional staff of wonderful people putting together a top-notch show. This is what I’m working toward- to be known as that funny guy on tv that teaches people all about photography. The PhotoGuru.


If you’re interested in watching the segment, here’s the link: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=view_from_the_bay/everything_else&id=6674127

For more on Photoguru with Sean Arbabi, to review our tv show pilot, or read articles on photography, tips and tricks, new gear and software, and more, go to: http://www.photoguru.tv

03Feb

Photo Potpourri

A few fun february facts, images to check out, and items to think about in the photo world. By the way, here’s a fun image of the Na Pali coast in Kauai, I captured from a helicopter a few years ago while on assignment.


A piece of news I got from Calypso Imaging‘s newsletter (a great printer in the San Francisco Bay Area, although I personally use West Coast Imaging– awesome printer)- 18 years ago this month, Adobe shipped Photoshop 1.0. That was the first year of my career, but in February I was a few months away from graduating college at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara. So although I had learned a ton about photography in college, by the time I graduated, a whole new world of digital was emerging – an aspect I had to educate myself on to keep up with the times. How Photoshop opened so many doors toward quality imagery. Now in the 11th version of the program (Photoshop 1-7, then the CS series, now at CS4), the software has morphed into something amazing and unreal – congrats Adobe.


Wanna see how unreal digital photography HAS become? Check out this 1,474 Megapixel shot of the
President Obama’s inaugural address, created by David Bregman, combining 220 images together in a process / robotic camera mount called Gigapan. The final image size was 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels. Nice shot David. Wow- I’ve gotta try it soon! (click on David’s name to review the shot)

A hundred and seven year ago this month, Ansel Adams was born (in 1902),

and although he past away 25 years ago, the impact he had on photography is not only beyond measure, but well beyond what any other photographer has done to date. I never had the chance to meet him, but I feel what he feels about image-making. Here’s a wonderful photo of Ansel, taken by an amazing photographer Jim Alinder (with permission – © Jim Alinder) – to see his work and gallery, go to: http://www.alindergallery.com/

Have a wonderful February all – keep an eye out for me on “The View From the Bay” in a week or so, Feb 23rd, at 3pm on ABC’s San Francisco TV station, KGO channel 7. Then my first book signing event in Clayton CA February 15th.

15Nov

Via magazine cover

Just wanted to share my Via magazine cover in their November/ December 2007 issue.  Via is the magazine for AAA (Automobile Association of America), one of the biggest travel magazines in the US (2-5 million circulation depending on the edition), but many aren’t as familiar with it since it’s not on newsstands.


I shot this image last September at dusk, using my medium format Fuji 680 III camera, at the Treebones Resort along the Big Sur coast (just north of the Hearst Castle by about 30 minutes).  These structures are called “Yurts” and are circular canvas tent-style cabins, rustic but very comfortable (with heaters, porches, windows and beds). I waited ’til after sunset when the ambient light of dusk balanced with the interior lights from the Yurts.  Using a wide-angle lens and a two-stop graduated neutral density filter, I set my f-stop to a small aperture around f/32 and clicked the shutter (probably around 2 to 4 seconds) using film- then created a high-resolution scan to turn it into a digital file.

The Treebones is a great place to get away from it all and watch Whales migrate up and down the California coast.  They also have offer wonderful dinner menu with great cooks.  Call 877-4-BIGSUR for reservations.

02Oct

Sean’s Podcast interview with The Candid Frame


During my time in Chicago last September lecturing at the BetterPhoto.com summit, I was interviewed by a fellow BetterPhoto instructor and photographer Ibarionex R. Perello- an experienced pro who produces wonderful images of people.

Ibarionex interviewed me for his Podcast “The Candid Frame” and did an outstanding job creating a free-flowing 36 minute discussion about the photo business and my career in it!  


We did it in my hotel room after a long day of lecturing, it turned out great, so listen to it.  In fact, all of Ibarionex’s interviews are interesting, so enjoy them all, either at The Candid Frame: http://www.thecandidframe.com/

Or on iTunes in the Podcast section- here’s the direct link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=127842171&s=143441


I also added two images I shot while in the Windy City – one looking over Chicago from the John Hancock building’s 93rd floor, and the second image of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on my way to my terminal as I head home.  I had a great time in Chicago hitting a Cubs game, a riverboat tour, and the Navy Pier- gotta go back soon!

01Jul

Making the best of every situation, Neat Image, Gorilla Pods, BetterPhoto.com, PhotoGuru.tv



I’ve started my Podcast through PhotoGuru.tv and iTunes (discussing all aspects of photography), and jump into a variety of issues for this podcast/blog- everything from a nice photo tip, to a cool software program plug-in called NeatImage (for Photoshop CS2 and CS3), as well as recommending fun new tripod for your camera called Gorilla Pods.

I also talk about the benefits of online workshops, and much more. Check it out photo dudes and dudettes….


01Jun

PhotoGuru and you…


This is our first
Podcast for PhotoGuru and I hope you all enjoy it and look forward to many more.

Over the following months and years, I’ll be posting Podcasts on our upcoming television show “PhotoGuru with Sean Arbabi”, keeping you all up-to-date on our progress to get our show to the airwaves.


I’ll also be sharing with you all my life as a commercial travel photographer, running my business “Arbabi Imagery“.  I’ll talk about recent shoots, challenges, upcoming workshops, published work, and upload images from my experiences.

Click on the link above to listen to our first Podcast loaded May 2007.


peace, love, and cashflow….