Monday, November 26, 2012

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP #4 - Polarize Filtering

Sunglasses PolarizerIf you really want to add some punch to your images, then get your hands on a polarizing filter. A polarizer is the one filter every photographer should have handy for landscapes and general outdoor shooting. By reducing glare and unwanted reflections, polarized shots have richer, more saturated colors, especially in the sky.What's that you say? Your digital camera can't accommodate filters. Don't despair. I've been using this trick for years with my point-and-shoot cameras. If you have a pair of quality sunglasses, then simply take them off and use them as your polarizing filter. Place the glasses as close to the camera lens as possible, then check their position in the LCD viewfinder to make sure you don't have the rims in the shot.
If your camera doesn't accept filters, then you can still achieve the effects of a polarizer by placing your sunglasses over the lens. Figure 2a is shot normally without any filtration. Figure 2b is shot during the same session, but with sunglasses placed over the lens. Notice the enhanced colors and deeper sky tones. (Canon PowerShot S200, Program mode)
Without a filter.
Figure 1a.
With a filter.
Figure 1b.

For the best effect, position yourself so the sun is over either your right or left shoulder. The polarizing effect is strongest when the light source is at a 90-degree angle from the subject.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP #3 - Composition

Composition, the act of composing the image in the viewfinder, is a visual process of organizing the elements and individual details of a scene into a balanced and pleasing arrangement. Because what one person finds pleasing, someone else will not, composition is largely a matter of personal taste.
In this section, we take that into account. There is no right or wrong composition in photography; just Efective or not!. A composition that conveys a photographer's intended meaning is an effective one. A composition that doesn't or that confuses the viewer is not.
A photograph that communicates its message - that says what you want it to say, says it clearly, and that interests its viewer - is an effecive composition.
How you arrange a scene's elements in your camera's viewfinder will not only determine the effectiveness of your picture's graphic design, but will also contribute to how well its message is conveyed. There is more to good composition, though, than the placement of elements. Lighting,shutter speeddepth of field and other considerations contribute to a picture's mood and clarity of what the picture is saying, and therefore the effectiveness of its composition.

Some of the so-called "rules" of composition presented here should be considered as guidelines. They are based on recreating similarities in the make-up of many different images that many people have found to be esthetically-pleasing. We do not intend that a rule of composition or a design concept be taken as a hard and fast rule that must be observed. Besides, some renowned photographs break all the rules of composition and are still excellent pictures. This doesn't mean that the rules are without value. They are tremendously valuable. They are time-proven, and provide great guidelines for photographers at any level. We use them all the time.

Years ago, artists who had been born with an innate sense of design created works that were perceived, by other skilled artists, as having good composition. Not only that, but their works were very popular with the general public and art afficionados. Analysis of such works showed patterns and trends in the organization and inter-relationships of lines, shapes, forms and colors that were recognized as contributing to the effectiveness of the works. It was found that others could employ these patterns as techniques in improving their own works. When they were defined, they became known as the rules of composition.

We hope in this section to help everyone to compose better pictures, but especially the person who has no idea of composition - the photographer for whom taking a picture means just picking up a camera to point it and shoot it with little thought for the arrangement of the elements in a scene. Such a person would rarely be pleased with the results of his or her normal photography, and could benefit enormously from an understanding of the elements of composition.
Anyone who has an interest in improving their pictures would do well to go through this section and use the tips and hints it contains in their photography to see if their pictures improve.
By religiously observing the principles of composition, they will become firmly cemented in your mind. Employing them will become second nature to you. If you don’t find there is an improvement in your pictures and people aren’t commenting on how great they look, we will be greatly surprised.
Once you have the rules of composition down pat, experiment and break a rule here or there when you feel the image will work better without it. That’s called individual style, and the creativity that stems from it produces some great images. The point is that you will know when to break a rule of composition once you know what the rules are and how they work.

Friday, November 09, 2012


The intent of this "column" was to write tips of photography, to those who enjoy this beautiful craft, "every day"... But after trying to find the right time to do it I started to get really frustrated because I never find the time; then I've come to the conclusion to relax a bit and write as soon as I can sit down, focus and write. So, from here on (as has been from the beginning), I will write this column as soon as my availability allows me.

For many, these TIPS are already known an even used, but for even greater audience, these tips are not known, not used or not relevant at all (That's why I see so many BAD photographs around... especially in the internet).

I agree that these (and all) the tips, rules and gadgets in photography (an in many instances in life) are NOT ALWAYS used or even needed; so I rely in your common sense to determine when do you want to use these tips and when you don't want to use them.

The TIP for today is : USE A TRIPOD!

As I mentioned before, The rules and tips in photography are not always used, but it is important for us to know them all (or as many as is possible for us to know).
I don't think I need to explain the benefits of using a Tripod, but for those that are entering into photography for the first time, let me tell you that it is important to stabilize the camera in order to get sharper images. This is a principle well known for many (almost ALL) who likes photography, but not applied as often as it should be.
There are 3 main reasons why Do you want to use a tripod for your photographs (perhaps, there are more situations that require the use of a tripod, but for the purpose being here today I'll explain these three reasons):
1.- Low light.
2.- Taking long exposure photographs.
3.- Using long lenses.
Other reasons that require the use of a tripod could be, but not limited to, the following:
4.- Macro photography
5.- Products and commercial photography
6.- Architectural photography
7.- Studio, etc. etc.

Let me explain the first three reasons, so you can start being more familiar with these:

1.- LOW LIGHT SITUATIONS: The digital camera sensors, as did the film in time of the past for many, have a limit of sensibility; in other words, they can sense the light up to a point, after which they will capture only darkness.
Most of the time, when you want to take a photograph in dark areas, like you in a restaurant with your family, or playing outside in a summer night, you use the flash from your camera, right? Well, there are situations that the flash light from your camera will not reach the area you want to photograph, or simply it is not the look you want to achieve, like this photo below I took when I was in the Sourthen region of Utah, close to the border of Arizona.

2.- LONG EXPOSURES: This situation is awfully similar to the one mentioned previously... as a matter of fact, all the people who likes night photography, knows that the most important element in their camera bag is their tripod!
This type of photography is LOW LIGHT SITUATIONS in STEROIDS!!  This is for extreme low light situations, where the exposure surpass the 1 second limit... I am talking 20 seconds, 2 or 3 minutes, or even 3 or 4 hours!!

This is a 30 seconds photograph... obviously using my tripod. That's why is so sharp.

This photograph took about 5 seconds and it gives the effect of a curtain in the water fall. Not necessarily in low light situations, but when something is moving fast and you want to give the effect of even "faster" or a "dreamy" look, like this water fall.

3.- USING LONG LENSES: This is the least viewed by people who are not professionals in the matter, just because they don't usually own of these expensive lenses! But, most of the time, when we do wildlife photography and use one of these lenses, ranging normally between 300 mm and 500 mm (going to the extremes to 800 mm or even 1000 mm), they are REALLY heavy, and if we would hand hold them every shake will be magnified, and the result will be: a blurred photo!.
Beside these lenses being heavy to carry, they are mainly used in low light situations like early mornings (dawn) or during sunset (dusk), That is when wildlife is the most active.

Here is a sample photo, taking a close up of this mountain goat, using a REALLY long lens on top of my tripod.

REMEMBER!! : There are SO MANY situations where you will be tempted in not using (or taking) your tripod. You will be able to get away without the use of a tripod many times, BUT you are risking the integrity and perfectness of the photograph you want to take!
It's up to the situation you are in and How important is that photograph to you?  If it's REALLY important and your light is low, THEN you Must use your tripod.
The professionals use a tripod... FOR A REASON!!
Learn to use it TOO !!!

Feel free to contact me or ask me questions about the TIP of the day or any other topic related to photography. I'll be happy to answer it and help you as much as I can.

Keep taking photographs!!!
AL Aguayo.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


One of the greatest accomplishment in my life is and always will be to use my professional expertise and talent (if I have any) for my own family!
This is the case in one of my latest photo sessions, when my own daughters modeled for me and my cameras, wearing my mother's crochet creations for her online Catalog and Portfolio, which, by the way, my sister, Danella, is creating after taking the time to study professional web site creation; she being helped somehow by my oldest brother, Oscar, who is a master web developer and online software engineer.
These are the photographs I took the other day.

Comments as much as you would like! :)

Friday, October 12, 2012


#1 - Photography TIP of the DAY:
            Today I want to mention the importance to KNOW YOUR CAMERA!. It's said "if you want to keep a secret from people to know, write it down in the Owner's Manual".
            Most of today's lack of quality in the photography industry is because people DO NOT KNOW HOW TO USE THEIR CAMERA! and the worst part is THEY ARE ALREADY CHARGING for their services!
            But, I am not here to criticize the wrong doings of other people, but to teach you what to do: READ your manual and LEARN how to use your camera.
            To make it more fun, get some ice cream if you want, and while you indulge in some sweets, get your camera an it's manual and start to Study it!! Most basic camera tricks and basics operations are in there.
            I know many would be thinking: THIS TIP IS LAME!! But I bet, more than 90% who say that, have NOT read their camera's manual. If you are one of the few that have read your camera's manual, you will agree with me on HOW IMPORTANT THIS TIP IS.
            About 4 weeks ago I was taking some customer's photographs, she calling herself a 'photographer' (she is still in the phase of learning about this beautiful craft), and she mentioned she has a customer already... When I asked her about her camera settings, she answered: I put the camera in the "green set" (Fully Programmed mode) and I take my photographs like that. I was almost ready to cut my own veins, ready to jump from a bridge down in front to a moving train!!... Hahaha... not truly, but I was some how frustrated. I went ahead and told her that she must know her camera first and then take photographs...
            I hope you don't find this TIP tedious, boring or lack of content.

ESPAƑOL (version corta)
           Hoy dia estoy estresando la importancia de CONOCER tu camara fotografica antes de salir a "trabajar" con ella.
           Dentro del MANUAL de INSTRUCCIONES, se encuentran MUCHAS de las tecnicas que los profesionales utilizamos dia a dia.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Mountain Goats

Mountain Goats hunting season has started and many people with rifles and other weapons show their masculinity and strategies by going up to the mountain and search for their preys... My story tells a different way of hunting. A way that allows the prey to be alive, with his family, enjoy life and see their babies grow. My way of hunting is by searching them and trying to capture this precious animals as close as I can.
Yesterday, I left home about 5 am. and drove for about 2 hours straight to a specific location. From there, I hiked for another 4 hours, carrying my cameras, batteries, tripods, etc... everything needed except my vital and needing tools: FOOD and WATER!

By 2 pm. in the afternoon, and after climbing two mountain peaks (still going towards the place I know this particular white king of the mountains rest), I found my first group of 5 goats eating and trying to fat their bodies for the cold and snowy approaching winter. I stuck myself to this particular "clan" of goats. I hide behind trees while I was taking my cameras and preparing my equipment... Sadly, I will not explain my approach to this beautiful animal, because some of my friends, who love hunting, might use this techniques to eventually kill them. But, my approach allows me to be a few yards from them and don't disturb them. (This particular technique IS NOT wearing any custom, by the way).

I follow them and was with them for over 3 hours,  While this time, I took many hundreds of photographs and videotaped them for almost the entire time, me being as close as 10 feet away from them. In fact, there was a mother with a little goat and 3 other goats... for sure at least 2 males; the third adult might of been another young female or male. I walked with them going down cliffs, and up hills, they ate and rest, they played and ... later on, got scared when two hunters passed close by them. The hunters once they saw me, they kept on going without disturbing them, because I was with this group of goats.
When it was night I started to head towards my car... 4 hours far away hiking up and down and up again, where my car was parked. It was 9:10 pm when I reached my water bottles and the food I brought (inside the car).

Even though I was super hungry and EXTREMELY thirsty, I preferred staying with this animals admiring and contemplating their magnificence, their calmness and sobriety. It's beautiful to see them interact with each other, and enjoy the amazing sights they live on.

I had a great time, and once again, I, most likely, will find myself next week among this animals.

I am posting some of the photographs for you to enjoy here.

Feel free to comment as much as you want. :)

Monday, October 01, 2012

Mountain Hike

Friday afternoon, as one of my outdoor activities, I planned for a small hike up in the mountains by North Ogden area. Small I knew how long the hike would really take!

I left my car locked and on my way I went by the little dirt trail uphill. I knew that I wanted to get some photographs done and hopefully I was going to get some nice video footage as well, so I took my camera backpack, tripod, a water bottle and a couple of cracker packs.

Starting at 2 pm. I thought to be back by 4:30 or even 5 pm.

Well, the "problem" was that my wishes came true!! I got to a place were I found a mother and a father Moose taking care of a little baby moose!! It was nice, though the time I had for film them was less than a minute... so I couldn't get much of them.

Having my enthusiasm boosted up by this family of moose's, instead of turning around to go back down, to my car, I thought to keep into my hike still up hill (it was 4:30 pm already, and I was still climbing up hill). By 5 pm. my energy was vanishing quite fast, so I paused my hike and sat down on the rocky ground for a quick snack and re-hydration using the final drops in my water bottle; after which I kept on walking... My legs were a bit soaring by now, but I was intrigued by this mountain; I wanted to see another group of animals if possible.

By 6:30 pm. my hopes were vanishing as quick as my energy to keep pushing uphill (yes... there was more mountain to hike!!), so I decided to start my descend towards the parking lot. And by the way, I was already hiking up hill 1 hour and a half without any water, in a beautiful sunny day, in a mountain so high, that there were no creeks, rivers, puddles or lakes to filter some water.

While I stopped to take some of the sunset photographs (which one of them made it for this blog) and contemplating the serenity and beauty of the location I was in, I realized some movement in a nearby cliff, so I left one of my cameras creating the photography for me, and took my other camera with me to "investigate".

Right there, at 6:45 pm, so close to the sunset and the final rays of day light, I found a herd of approximately 30 mountain goats, rumbling and playing in the rocks, eating and fattening for the winter, enjoying themselves the last part of the warm weather days.

I took dozens of photographs and several minutes of video for my up coming video project (which still is in process, for which I can't say anything yet). It took me all the rest of the afternoon; I was working my photography until the light of the day and the warmth of the sun abandoned me for good.

It was interesting to see these goats so close to me... I don't know if they treat every hiker like they did to me, but they seemed not to be bothered by my presence. They grazed and play almost around me and they allowed me to photograph them, to talk to them (I don't think they understood a word I said... because they didn't posed as I asked them to).

I followed them as they were moving up the mountain as far as I could go with the light of the day, until it was dark... I mean dark!

I still had 4 hours of going down hill and it was already close to be 8 pm. The air became chilly and I had no jacket!! I had no more water nor food... but I knew all I had to do was "just" going downhill... no more photographs, video or stops.

I packed back all my equipment (using a little head lamp that I had at hand as part of my hiking/photo gear) and stride my step the best I could.

I managed to be in the parking lot by 10 pm. exhausted and thirsty as few times in my life, super tired and with my knees soaring and my back and shoulders aching, but wit a BIG smile in my face, knowing that I've got great photographs and a beautiful experience.

I am posting 4 photographs of the animals I found and the scenery.

I hope you enjoy them.

Feel free to post comments at anytime.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Last Saturday I was in Salt Lake City taking photographs of some great friends of mine, Brennan and Anna. Beside "doing my job" as a photographer and covering their event, I have to tell you, I had such a great time working with them (and for them). Anna's beauty and happy personality was contagious, and even deep inside she was nervous and hopeful for the weather and decoration to go well, she made everyone around her to feel happy and relaxed as well. Brennan, though nervous, he did GREAT all throughout the evening and was as affectionate as Anna during the entire day.

I'll skip the description of the details of the evening at this point, and proceed to mention that these photographs are but a small portion of the many photographs I did take on their day. I hope you find them attractive and appealing to you, as much as they do to me.

Feel free to leave any comment (or even questions if you will).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This was a fun family session we did at a park in Ogden.