BTL: Capturing my Daughters Birthday with my Smartphone

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Not every photo has to be taken with high priced gear. You don’t even have to have top of the line equipment to get great photos. This photo is a good example of that. I captured this photo using my iPhone and the Sony QX30. The Sony QX30 is a camera that uses your smartphone as the viewfinder. You also use the phone to control the manual settings on the camera. Though the QX30 does not have full manual mode, it does have Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes, which is pretty close to manual. The QX30 turns my smartphone into a camera capable of shooting in just about any condition. I know that I can get decent photos using my iPhone 6 Plus so long as the lighting in the room is decent, but my iPhone can not capture a photo I would deem worthy of printing and putting up in our home. This is why I often default to using my DSLR for all situations, but DSLR cameras are large and you can’t easily share photos from them to social media. Not yet anyway. The lighting for this photo was only window light from across the room. It was about 9:30 in the morning when I took this photo and the sun was actually on the other side of our house so the light coming through the the windows was not that bright. Below is a photo of the windows so you can get an idea of the lighting. My daughter was facing the windows …

BTL: Sun Starburst Effect Wedding Party Portrait

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In our fantastic Facebook Group, a question was asked about how you can exaggerate the sun coming through the trees. This came at a perfect time because I had just photographed a wedding where I had the sun shining through the trees to create a natural sun starburst effect. Not all camera settings are created equal when it comes to trying to capture the sun in this way. It also becomes challenging to capture a sun starburst while at the same time, keeping your subjects in the foreground exposed properly. As you can see in this image, I probably could have used a bit more light on my subjects but overall the photo turned out pretty good. Due to the excessive amount of light coming through the tree, there is some degradation in the finer details of the leafs of the tree. If you don’t zoom in on the photo, you probably won’t notice. Most tutorials online will suggest that you need to close down your aperture to something like fstop 18 or even 22 to achieve this effect. As you can see, my aperture was set to 6.3. I was able to achieve the sun starburst effect because the sun was so overpowering and because my focal length was so wide. This is also why I decided to have the sun backlight my subjects. If the sun was behind me, lighting the front of my subjects, they would have barely been able to keep their eyes open. I would rather combat strong backlighting than force my subjects …

BTL: My Son on the Dock in Newport Beach

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This is one of my favorite photos I have taken of my second child. I captured this photo while we were on vacation in Newport Beach in 2013. He was 17 months old at this time. He was sitting on the steps of the dock and I just happened to have my camera in hand. I walked right up to him and said, “hey buddy.” He looked up at me, smiled and I took the photo. The sun was low as it was less than 30 minutes from sunset. The sunset was actually behind me but it was blocked by houses. To compensate for the fact that the sun was not out and shining at that point, I increased my ISO and opened the aperture wide. This also gave the photo a nice shallow depth of field, which I believe helps draw your eyes to him. A shallow depth of field puts everything in the background out of focus. You can see that in this photo, though the furthest point of the background is not far away, it is out of focus. I made sure to quickly focus on his eyes using back button focus rather than allowing my camera to focus as I pressed the shutter down (I will post a tutorial on back button focus soon). I have missed focus so many times by allowing the camera to focus as I press down the shutter button, especially when I needed to capture the photo fast before the moment had passed. I kept the shutter speed …

Welcome to the Ditch Auto Podcast – 001

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Welcome to the new Ditch Auto Podcast. This video podcast is dedicated to helping photography enthusiasts get out of auto mode and use manual features of their cameras. This podcast is not simply about DSLR Cameras, it’s about getting out of automatic mode as a state of mind. This video introduces what is to come with the Ditch Auto Podcast. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes to get the latest videos each week.

BTL: Rick Santorum Daytona 500 Pit Road

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I had the opportunity to shoot photos at the Daytona 500 this year and it was an amazing experience. This was my first NASCAR race and first pro sports event I had the chance to photograph where I had actual credentials to do so. The group I was with was a non-profit that was doing some work with Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum. Hours before he arrived at the track, I was told that his staff photographer was unable to make it and that I was going to become his photographer for the day. Part of my job was to continue covering the event for the non-profit I was working for while now at the same time capturing photos of Rick Santorum interacting with people. The access we had was unbelievable. Before the race, we were walking down pit road at Daytona Motor Speedway. Rick was out front along with members of the non-profit and a couple of high ranking Air Force officers. I ran ahead and grabbed a photo of Rick who seemed to be amazed himself at what he was experiencing. After posting this photo to Twitter, Rick Santorum’s staff asked for permission to use this photo on their website and to be able to post it to Rick’s social media accounts. This gained me a lot of retweets and some followers. Rick Santorum himself even followed me on Twitter. When you are photographing events like this, where lighting changes quickly depending on the direction you are pointing your camera, it is important to have …

Ditch Auto Hits 41,000 Students!

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What an amazing milestone. When I first launched the Ditch Auto – Start Shooting in Manual course on Udemy.com, I figured that friends and perhaps past clients of mine who wanted to learn more about photography would take the course. I could not have imagined that over 41,000 people from all over the world would end up taking the course. What is next for Ditch Auto? In the coming weeks we will be launching a podcast and start posting tutorials to this website. I want Ditch Auto to be more than just an introductory course. The feedback many of those who took the course have provided let me know that there is a need for more information. Though there is plenty of good information already on the internet on photography, it’s always good to have different perspectives on things. I am a hands on learner and teacher, it seems that people are drawn to that teaching style. Through this website, the podcast, my Youtube channel and future courses, I hope to continue to help people Ditch Auto and get the most out of their cameras. Here are some of the things people are saying about Ditch Auto: Went from having no understanding of how to shoot in manual to gaining a good understanding of cause and effect relationships with that will allow me to take better photos. ~Nathan I really enjoyed watching and taking part in this course Jerad Hill is a great teacher and he’ll show you part of his knowledge in a easy way. …