29 January 2016

8 Things You Can Do NOW to Improve Your Photography

Art Model, Covenant, Back Patio ©2015 Terrell Neasley
Okay. So you know that Spring time is coming around soon. Its the middle of winter and before you know it, the snow will have melted and green grass and flowers will be budding and blooming. You've seen it before. Every year its the same thing. So why not, while you're holed up in the house to stay out of the winter storm, get to cracking on learning your camera so you can be better prepared to take advantage of these great pics you're gonna wanna take in the Spring? Sorta like working out NOW to have your summer body by end of May.

1. Pull Out the Manual
Chances are you have never done this. Not once. Well find it and dust it off. Put down the morning paper for a change and review your camera manual. If you can't find it, then look it up online. Its there. Trust me. Check out the specifications that your camera is capable of and become familiar with them.

Art Model, Covenant, Upper Pahranagat ©2015 Terrell Neasley
"Smooth seas have never made a skillful sailor"

2. Go Shoot!
Find out what you like to shoot. THEN SHOOT SOMETHING ELSE! In other words, get out of your comfort zone a little. Again, comparing this to working out... if you just stick to shooting what you are familiar with, its like hitting that plateau when you know you want to lose that last 20 pounds. Develop your photo muscles by exercising different ones you are not so familiar with using.

Art Model, Panda Nevada Desert ©2013 Terrell Neasley

3. Test the Limits of your Camera
Another familiarization drill! See what your images look like at the highest ISO it can achieve. If it has expanded ISO, check it out. Maybe that noise is doable or maybe you'll need to back it off a stop or two. Test out the high frame rates and see if the Auto Focus misses on any of those shots. If it shoots 5 frames per second. Test it. Maybe all of the shots are in focus, but if not, it will be better to test this before you actually need to use this feature.

4. Play with Flash and Long Exposures
You'll really have fun with this one. Flash can be intimidating, but its really not. Its just light. You use light every day. Play with the flash sync speed. Practice with the Rear Curtain Sync feature. See what it might be good for by checking out YouTube. Use a speedlight OFF of the camera. Pick up some inexpensive trigger/receiver combo to make your flash pop wirelessly. And do this without using the automatic features or TTL. Got a cable release for your camera? Ever use a shutter speed as slow as 15 minutes? What do you think you have that tripod for? Try it out!

Art Model, Panda Nevada desert ©2011 Terrell Neasley

5. Go Look at a Lot of Pics
You can better see what's possible when you start looking at other photog images. I'm not talking about copying other people's intellectual property. I'm speaking to looking at the work of others do get ideas for better lighting concepts. Better perspectives. Better inspiration to maybe shoot outside at night. If you want people to appreciate your work, check out other photog's work. Make comments on their work on Instagram or 500px.

6. Change Perspective, Lenses, Locations
The majority of lens kits are there are of the middle focal length range and this will be the only lens most people will own. Take a look at some wide-angle perspectives. See where this might come in handy. I recall the first time about 10 years ago that I experimented, at the suggestion of a friend, with wide-angle for a model shoot. Didn't think I needed it and why use wide-angle glass for anything other than landscape of photographing large groups. That shoot changed my life! And again with getting out of your comfort zone, take a road trip and shoot someplace new. Make it fun and get up early and do a day trip somewhere 200 miles away.

Art Model, Panda Nevada Canyon ©2011 Terrell Neasley

7. Limit to 36
I did this back in the film days. The idea behind it is that film has a much more limited number of exposures available compared to a SD card which can give you thousands of exposures. Limiting yourself to just 36, or the number of exposures you can get on a roll of film will make you more deliberate. You tend to make sure that the compositions you see have better subjects, are more developed scenes, and will be composed of more photographic fundamental elements that make a good picture. You'll take your time to really begin to see. You train your eye to attain a desired goal that first formulated in your mind. Today, people tend to "spray and pray". They take a bunch of shots and statistically, they are more apt to have at least one good one. The problem is that this great shot is still challenging to reproduce. You got a good shot, but you don't really know how you got it. It just happened. Let yourself be challenged. Do this exercise every now and then of limiting yourself to 36 shots for the day.

8. Commit
And this is as self-explanatory as Nike's slogan, "Just Do It". Committing is doing these 8 things plus more. Its leaving your familiarities and going out to that new location. It's heading over to B&C Camera (if you're here in Las Vegas) and rent a wide-angle lens, some studio lights, or a new camera you want to try out. Check out Sony's A7sII and play with its ISO to see what 409,600 looks like. Use it with  a 16-35mm lens to go shoot the milky way. Rent out a Panasonic GH4 and practice some video work. Need some studio lights? They have plenty. Practice. And commit yourself to this effort. By the March, you'll have that perfect Spring photography body that you'll need to get the best shots and you'll know you have the best shots because you put in the work and preparation to achieve these goals. Have fun!
Art Model, Covenant, Upper Pahranagat ©2015 Terrell Neasley

19 January 2016

Come FLY with Me! Let's Fly, Let's Fly Away!!

Anonymous Model. German girl I met in Nicaragua. Shot in my room I booked with a local family. ©2014 Terrell Neasley
“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.” 
– Caskie Stinnett

I think you can track the evolution of this blog when you take a look where I began almost nine years ago, til now. My photography has changed. Even my focus has changed. Okay... I mean, I'm still doing the nude, granted. But I wasn't doing photo professionally at the start of this blog and I wasn't as driven as I am with travel back then as I am today. Now, if I could get away with it, I'd always be gone and adventuring somewhere. I don't know if adventuring is a word. Actually, I just looked it up and it is. Moving on. So yeah, I'd always be out somewhere. My ultimate goal, I think is to sail and circumnavigate the globe on an ongoing basis on my own 40ft plus catamaran. Yes, I need someone who's comfortable with being nude. Cuz I will be shooting. All the time. And maybe it would be good to have another couple who are well versed at sea-life who share the same exploration ideals and can help share the responsibilities.

Anonymous Model. German girl I met in Nicaragua. Shot in my room I booked with a local family. ©2014 Terrell Neasley
There are also times when I'll travel alone. And I'll want to be alone. Make no mistake about that. Even with having a girlfriend/wife, there are times I'll take off on my own escapades. I may even have a model, or be full on solo. I'll want some time to adventure on my own, by myself, in remote areas where its just me and the land/sea. I think its a very good idea for people to head out on their own and challenge themselves, not with overcoming fear of being in a new area, but rather of just being alone. No buddies to socialize with. No comrades to ask advice about what to do next. Just you. Making the call. And then living with the decision you made, whether good or bad. Chances are you'll make new acquaintances anyway, so you're never really alone, unless you hit barren areas bereft of human interaction. Then its just you, your thoughts, nature, and the Heavens.

Anonymous Model. German girl I met in Nicaragua. Shot at a beach location she recommended. Had some gear stolen while on this shoot. Had to walk back with no water. Got aided by some Canadians who also gave us a ride home. ©2014 Terrell Neasley
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

But here's the thing. I would absolutely love it if I had some of my friends, family, or CLIENTS come travel with me. Its not necessary to be gone as long as I do. But just a week or two. Correction... AT LEAST TWO WEEKS! You'll spend that first week just acclimating. Give yourself two weeks. Come do a leg or two with me. You'll fly in. Meet me somewhere. Then we'll head out on a grand adventure. I'll do some pics. We have a good time. And then you go home with fabulous memories that last you your whole life. Man, fuck some of the things you buy and spend money on. You'll consume those products, waste them, and they won't mean anything to you after a while. But you'll always be grateful of shared memories or new experiences and exploration. Those will stick with you and make for some great stories you'll never stop telling. The rest of your friends will become sick of you, though if you only have that ONE story that you're always telling. But they'll love you if you've always got something NEW to share.

Three-month trip with my girlfriend last year, Art Model Covenant. Beach at north end of Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. My second excursion into Nica ©2015 Terrell Neasley 

So there's two ways you can do this. When you hear me start talking about my next trip, start researching the areas I'm mentioning and see if it might be a good fit. Maybe you have some flexible days and some cash in the bank. All you need is a few grand, at the most and a valid passport. See if you need any immunizations and boom! Book a ticket. If I'm talking about bouncing around the Baltic States and spending a month in Estonia, maybe you want to get down with that for a few weeks. Hit me up and let me know. Or if the timing is off for you, well we can discuss that too. I tend to travel light and economical. Personally, I don't need the All-Inclusive package. I don't desire it. I'd rather be immersed amongst the locals. At least that's why I travel. I want to experience the people and culture as well as the land. If you're looking for resort-style room service, cool. But you'll be paying me to be there. Which leads in to the next possibility.

Lounging about next to the Rio Dulce, Southern Guatemala in Livingston reading our Kindle Paperwhites. 3 week battery life on those things. Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley

One of these days, I'll be in Antarctica. Okay, you may not want to go there. I'll give you that. So, if you're looking for a custom itinerary, I'm available for hire. I'll be your paid travel companion/bodyguard/photographer. Nothing wrong with that. I almost got to do that with a lady I met in the camera store one day, but she was already heading to Europe the next day. I can usually be ready on a whim, provided I don't have to clear out any current projects. I'll spend whatever time you want, adventuring with you, shooting your escapades and we can make a hard back book of it when I get back and edit the pics. I would absolutely love being hired out to do this. I'm telling you, you would love it too. 

In our room Antigua, Guatemala. Art Model, Covenant right after she climbed the Acatenango volcano.
©2015 Terrell Neasley

And lastly, well...you don't need me to travel. Maybe you don't like me and are just reading my blog as a hater tracking what I do with a scowl on your face. You think I'm a bitch, right? Cool. OR maybe my style of travel doesn't suit you. That's cool too. You can still do this on your own! Holla at me if you want any tips. I'll even do that for my haters. That's how bad I want you to get the hell out and travel. Cuz even if you're hating on me, you ain't gonna be hating me when you get back and I'll have gained a friend. Or at the very least you'll be cool with me and reading me with a half-smile. 

Beach bungalow at Lebeha Cabanas and Drum Center, Hopkins, Belize. Been here twice! Best Pork Chops on the planet at the Frog's Point Restaurant. Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley