Friday, May 27, 2011


I've been counting down the weeks, days, seconds to this weekend.  This coming Monday and Tuesday we are moving and with that and work and family I won't be posting anything to the blog next week.  I won't even have internet for the first few days!  I don't know how on earth we will survive that but part of me is looking forward to not having the distraction when I need to focus on getting our new home in order.  I'm one of those people who believes you're never really done with a home since there is always something that you can add.  I will really miss our old apartment and all of the wonderful times we had there (we lived there for 6 years!!) but one thing is for sure - I'm looking forward to the fresh start and the new memories that we will make.   

Copyright 2011 Monica L. Shulman

For next week I won't be completely disconnected and if you follow me on Twitter I'll be sharing photos via Instagram like I usually do. 

In the meantime, happy weekend!  Happy Memorial Day!  Happy official beginning of summer!  Happy Happy!

Here are some fun links from around the web that you might have missed...

The Photographer's Daily is always a great resource for photographers and photography lovers and this week they featured this post of mine from yesterday featuring tips for shooting landscapes!  Thanks!

Just do what you love, no matter the camera.  Amen!

Dancing with the (classic) stars.

Talk about glamorous!

A former model is now a (fabulous) photographer!

This is my favorite photo on the internet this week.  Seriously.

If you love photography and you've never been to 1x you should be ashamed of yourself.  I know I am because I only just discovered it this week thanks to these these amazing ladies.

And some photos of a beautiful spring afternoon when we traveled uptown to Central Park for a visit with Lucia's great aunt who happens to be one of my favorite people in Manhattan.

Copyright 2011 Monica L. Shulman

Copyright 2011 Monica L. Shulman

Copyright 2011 Monica L. Shulman

Copyright 2011 Monica L. Shulman

Copyright 2011 Monica L. Shulman

Copyright 2011 Monica L. Shulman

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tips for Shooting Landscapes

I so desperately need a vacation. I don't remember the last time I ever felt so exhausted...not even right after the baby was born. There's been a lot on my plate and I'm just looking forward to a mellow summer with my little family in our new place, some exciting work projects and possibly (hopefully) taking a trip somewhere. All this daydreaming got me to thinking about one of my favorite subjects to shoot.

I used to think that a landscape was a boring subject. I never understood the appeal of standing in a place, with a tripod or without, focusing on one scene. How wrong (and misinformed) could I have been? A landscape is as dynamic and exciting a subject as any. But, because of their popularity and because it is such an accessible subject to photograph, it can often be very difficult to make a landscape image stand out.

Here are some tips that have worked for me, and that I'm constantly working at getting better, for taking better landscape photos.


1. Play with composition

Try the usual and expected compositions because they can lead to amazing photographs but don't just shoot a landscape as well...a landscape! For obvious reasons this is the preferred method and the one with the most flexibility because you can shoot using a wide angle to capture a large scene, compose your shot using the rule of thirds and really take advantage of a larger scape. But, try shooting it as a portrait and you might be surprised at the results.


Hanging on to Summer

2. Get your exposure right

This is a general rule in all photography. No matter how much you try to play around during post-processing there's not much you can do if you didn't shoot with the right exposure set in the first place. Take it from me, it is very annoying and upsetting to see a fabulous photo ruined because it was too dark or blown out or you didn't adjust your settings properly. Sometimes you can't avoid it, especially with street scapes because you were in a rush to capture something or because you wanted to take advantage of good light, but as a general matter, be aware of your exposure. Depending on the time of day, you can go down on exposure a bit to darken the colors.

3. Play with shutter speed

If you're shooting moving water, like a wave or a water fall, you can try a slower speed. Play around with it and practice to get it right. Similarly, you can try doing this when you shoot street scapes too. Urban landscapes are cool because you can always show a lot of movement. People are always coming and going, rushing in and out of a frame and if you can use a tripod (see below) and set up a shot, you can really capture that craziness and kinetic energy of city life really well.

4. Chase the light

A photo will be disastrous if the light is wrong. I'm constantly looking for the magic light - most photographers I know are professional light chasers and the best time of day to find it when you're outdoors is either early morning or late afternoon/early evening. Obviously if you shoot in a studio you can make your magic light - not so for those of us who work primarily outside of the studio.

Making the Right Choice
Shot on an early summer evening just after sunset.

5. Depth of Field

I agree that when it comes to landscape photography, as a general matter, using a greater depth of field will work best. You want to be able to capture the essence of your landscape and tell a story with your photo and you can achieve this when you get your entire frame in focus. Use a small aperture (a high f-stop number) and if you're shooting with a zoom lens, bring it back as wide as possible. Even so, like I said, you should definitely play with your compositions and try out different things.

This is a close-up and a different angle...
what my eyes have seen...

...than this...

the detail
This is a good example of why how sometimes a shallow depth of field works too.

6. Use a tripod...or not.

I'm not a huge fan of the tripod unless I'm shooting in low light or unless I want to shoot using a slow speed. I feel a bit too restricted by them but sometimes they are a necessity. They come in handy even if you are just shooting in the early evening and the light is a little low even when you've got your exposure set perfectly - the best way to avoid the blur or camera shake is to mount your gear up on a tripod.

7. Crank up the saturation

I love to use a polarizer filter  on my lens when I shoot landscapes. The colors really pop and the images are just so beautiful. You can also play around with the colors and saturation in post-processing but I get so much satisfaction knowing that I got it right straight from the camera and that my pictures only need a little help afterwards.


These two photos were taken on the same day on the same beach but the techniques in-camera and post-processing were slightly different. Also, I know they seem crooked but they're not! We could see another island from the house we rented and the sea with the sight of land made the horizon appear tilted. Very bizarre and cool!

I'm a huge fan of shooting desaturated landscapes. You can try different color filters if you want to shoot in black and white. I shoot all photos in color even though my camera gives me the option of shooting in black and white and then I often add an orange filter to my lens to help me with the contrasts. Shoot with the filter and then when you convert to grayscale you will see how gorgeous the contrast created by the filter can be. Crank up the contrast and/or exposure in post-processing and WOW-SA.

Un lago en el cielo
Shot using an orange filter on a tripod.

on the moon.
I love that this looks like it was shot on the moon.

8. A cityscape is a landscape too

I've been able to travel to some pretty fabulous places in this world and believe me when I tell you that I feel beyond blessed to have been able to do that. But I also live in the urban jungle that is Manhattan so while I love to shoot landscapes, when you're in the city they look very different than what you'd typically see when you think of a "landscape" photo. So? Have fun with this subject no matter where in the world you are. You can apply all of these tips to your photography and most importantly, push yourself and have fun doing it.


Here are some more landscapes from my personal archives.

Summer Sea

A personal favorite from a very hot summer day in Washington Square Park.

Central Park Winter
I love this photo because I can remember how freezing it was this day. This photo just looks cold!

Copyright 2011 Monica L. Shulman
Embrace the chaos of city living and make it come to life in simple black and white. Strollers, bikes, dogs, people, cars, cross-walks!

In the Spirit!

Copyright 2009 Monica L. Shulman

Urban Bird Bath

Copyright 2009 Monica L. Shulman

The Rush Hour

Street Stories

Copyright 2008 Monica L. Shulman


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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Buy Me

Okay, no, I'm not for sale.  But my work is!

Remember I have a little Etsy shop where I sell open edition prints?  Let's hear it for affordable art! The photographs start at a mere $30! If you finished your spring cleaning and are in need of a little pick-me-up why not start with one of these little ditties?


green and mist

Little Red Bike

Copyright 2009 Monica L. Shulman

when I am alone.

Happy shopping!

Copyright 2010 Monica L. Shulman


Copyright 2011 Monica L. Shulman

Indian Summer

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Peter Funch

I often rely on the women behind Honestly..WTF to show me all things fabulous, funny, random and beautiful and this recent post was all of those things at once.

Apparently there was a commercial that featured colorful bouncy balls rushing down the streets of San Francisco - I had never seen it but I'm so glad my eyes are feasting on it now. Remember those balls that cost you a quarter in one of those gumball machines at the supermarket? My mom never really let us get the gum or other candy but she always said yes to a little toy or ball for a quarter.

I loved this commercial and the resulting photos are not only clever and whimsical but also nostalgic and sweet. Danish photographer Peter Funch was there to capture this major production. How awesome, no?

Peter Funch

Peter Funch

Peter Funch

Peter Funch

Peter has some pretty amazing and inspiring images on his website. Definitely check him out.

All images via Honestly..WTF and Lumas.

Oh, and definitely check out the making of this awesome commercial here. It was ALL real.  Amazeballs! Pun intended.

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