I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day - Photoblog #4

December 14, 2012

Chances are that when you’re shooting outside, someone else has already shot exactly the same subject that you’re trying to capture. 

But no one else’s image will be the same as yours as long as you’ve got clouds lending perspective and composition.

Clouds create drama. But more-so, clouds promote proper atmospheric conditions which create a softer light which in-turn makes it easier for you and your camera to properly expose the scene. Now all that’s left is using those clouds to tell a story!

These first three images are from our summer Lake Powell trip. You'd never know that it was a border-line miserable 110 degrees because the clouds depict a more serene setting: 




Clouds are endlessly abstract. They take our static subjects and create dynamic movement. Be sure to take several pictures marrying different amounts of sky to the scene until you find the right balance. If you want the main subject to be the clouds, let 2/3 of the picture be of the sky. If you have a subject that you just want enhanced by clouds, keep the sky to 1/3 the image. These two images below are a perfect example:



Let the clouds inspire your creativity. But here's a quick tip: Be careful with being too creative with the foreground! I shot this scene a couple months ago at Leo Carillo. Notice how the busy foreground clutters up the subject and becomes a distraction.  


Here's another image where the foreground is too busy. This is my neighbor's house and while this isn't a bad shot, the foreground distracts attention from the main subject (the house).


Here's another cool cloud shot that is missing something. A subject! 



In So Cal, this is the time of year for clouds. That means it’s also the time of year for sunsets. Unfortunately it gets dark really early right now (today’s sunset is at 4:48p). Over the next couple of months, the sunset will gradually happen approximately a minute later each day. Therefore, two months from now, the sunset will be at 5:30p. As a photographer, you should always always know when the sun is going to set “just in case” it’s setting up to be a great one. Always always have your camera with you and have a few "go-to" spots where you can combine a subject with the sunset.




Keep sending me those images and keep practicing!








Bodie – A Ghost Town Where I’d Died to Have Lived - Photoblog #3

August 02, 2012

For most of us, life is flying by so fast we can barely keep-up, let-alone stop and reminisce long enough to grasp some appreciation.  


Sometimes, however, when we look back at historic places or historic things we do actually stop and take the time to wonder what must have been. And in doing so we somehow acknowledge the turbulence which must have been the resident’s existence. California decided fifty-years ago that Bodie, a real once-thriving mining town, ought to be preserved forever so that generations to come could “feel” for its inhabitants. And by “feel” I mean, “feel bad” for how hard life must have been.




But the truth is that I can’t wait to go back. I actually never wanted to leave. Ya, granted, I didn't ride-into town on this:


Or in this:




I rolled in aboard one of the Bakers’ 4x4 Tacomas.


And I had all the food and beverage I could possibly consume during my succinct visit. And of course I never felt the need to be armed, which was nice.


But unless you were the guy that had “plans” and dreams of a white picket fence, this town had everything. 50-miles from Mammoth. 100 miles from Yosemite. Only twelve miles to Mono Lake! And lots and lots of gold. And gambling. And this little quaint town of 5,000 residents had 65 saloons and a thriving red-light district. For two years in a row Bodie averaged a murder per day! And very little real “work” because 20% of the town was Chinese slaves.  



Would all that be TOO much excitement?


Maybe I'm romanticizing again. Sometimes black & white brings me down to reality..



I am a pretty big wimp when it comes to getting cold and at 8400 ft., Bodie's winters might be just a tad too unbearable.


Plus, who am I kidding, anyway? I found the love of my life before I was even 21.


And not to belabor the point, but sometimes I can't even get my Accounts Payable guy to cut a check. How am I going to convince a bunch of slaves to keep digging when they're working for free?


I dunno. Bodie does make me realize one thing: I am a truely lucky guy... Just don’t ask me to put-up a picket fence.



An Ari Kreisler 'How To' Raise the Bar on Your Spring Photos - Photoblog #2

May 14, 2012  •  1 Comment

With Spring in full swing, our surroundings are becoming particularly attractive and we can’t help but to yearn for our cameras.


Unfortunately, the images we capture on film (or image sensors) aren’t always as awe-inspiring as what we see with our eyes.




Our eyes and our brains are in perfect collaboration with one another. Our eyes can focus and apply contrast in lighting situations our camera couldn’t dream of obtaining. So even the notion of attaining a photo worthy of inspiration is a monumental task. And trying to manipulate your camera by tweaking the exposure isn’t something you are going to learn from a photo-blog. However, if you keep the following five tips in mind, your odds of getting a great shot will be dramatically increased…


  1. Change Your Perspective                                                                

Pointing the camera in an angle that the human eye doesn’t usually see is a great way to get your shot second looks. Those 'double takes' will give the viewer’s brain enough time to take-in more information and hopefully see the beauty that you saw before pressing the shutter button.


This lone poppy plant was lying in the middle of a field and if I had just shot it from above, the best I could hope to accomplish would have been:


But when we lie-down and change our perspective:

  1. We capture an angle most people don’t see with their eyes.
  2. We point the camera into the sun which is something our eyes can’t do. The results are:
  • A bluer sky (unless you are shooting around sunrise and sunset, the horizon is not normally this shade of blue).
  • Solar flares (they help add composition and interest).
  • Back-lit flower pedals.





  1.   The Birds and the Bees 

Spring is happening everywhere. Go for a long walk, or go to the park, or even a near-by botanical garden. You don’t need to go to some exquisite destination in order to find Spring. And you don’t need to be in some protected natural habitat. Maybe your neighbor’s bougainvillea is overgrown and calling to your camera. Maybe the park has a pond and if it has ducks, there are almost certainly ducklings this time of year.



Keep looking. And keep listening. Nature is really busy right now. Spend a few seconds to find a nice dark and empty background (no signs or clutter). Last week I was shooting these cherry blossoms and pretty soon it was more about the Birds and the Bees than the flowers.. 





  1. Shoot People Interacting With Nature

Taking a picture of your children (or someone else’s children) standing next to something pretty is good. But it’s not great. Because visually it creates three problems:

  1. Too much posing
  2. It makes it almost impossible to create good composition
  3. It creates two main subject matters (our brains don’t usually like two main subject matters).



  • Get a picture of the kids feeding the ducks. Get down on their levels and capture their expressions. If you get a sharp focus on their eyes, the rest will happen for you.
  • Get a picture of your wife smelling a rose. Try and capture what she is feeling.
  • Get a picture of a child blowing on a dandelion.





** If anyone wants help or tips on shooting people, send me an email and I will be happy to provide some guidance.


  1. Raise the Bar, Not Your Expectations


Don’t get frustrated and give-up. Photography takes practice. Take tons of pictures. Don’t delete them on your camera - those mistakes are your training. Go back over them and learn why they aren’t worthy. If you aren’t getting the results, find pictures online that you love and ask yourself what that photographer did differently. And when you get home, don't bury your camera somewhere safe; rather, leave it out so that it is accesible.


  1. Spring Doesn't Just Have To Be About the Color



It also looks cool in black and white...



Valley of Fire

March 23, 2012  •  2 Comments

Ever heard of the "Valley of Fire?"


Last week, my old buddies from Spanish Hills and I went to the Restaurant/Bar/Nightclub convention in Vegas. After a few days of not even being able to push at Pai-Gow, I decided I'd change my luck by grabbing my camera, renting a car and making a solo-run into Nevada's high desert.


My expectations were low (which I'm sure doesn't surprise any of you!).


The prospects of finding bliss didn't get any higher when I saw this at the main highway turn-off:



The next fifteen miles were all 35mph curvy roads. Just me and my 2011 Focus and two road-sodas and the only radio station with reception, a static-ridden Utah area pop-hits broadcast. My hopes remained precipitously low when I didn't see another car the entire way into the park. And the clouds were blocking the sun making a low-light somewhere in the range of three f-stops under 18% gray. Lovely.



But... then it all started happening. Just like the park's absurd name promised, the clouds parted just enough to allow a few rays of sunshine to hit the red sandstone. Whaaaat? Within like twelve seconds, all the rocks all around me began to glow of red and white. And with the areas behind the red rocks in shadow, by glow I mean GLOW. I drove deeper and by now my heart was literally squirting adrenaline. I had only two hours of light left to shoot this entire 35,000 acre park! I was almost overwhelmed with a surge of nervous energy. Pull over, picture, jump in, foot hanging out, repeat. 



What a place. Have you heard of the Valley of Fire? I hadn't. 


Maybe it was the 72 degree afternoon with perfect light? Maybe the fact I only saw ten people the entire time? Maybe the day's perfect stillness contrasting the previous three days of casinos, clubs and convention? This was the opposite of being funneled through velvet convention ropes and night club lines. It was raw and unbound. No trails and no rails. Go anywhere. I took the following in Death Valley a couple years ago:



How much different could those photographer's images look?


F that. This place was the opposite. Hang off a cliff and get a shot that no one else has ever taken.



I wandered deep into the canyons leaving the Ford and all but my wide-angle behind.



Just me.



And all this texture. Are you kidding me?





I stumbled onto this feature they call "The Wave." Here it is in b&w.





On the way back, I grabbed the flash and tri-pod and here are the results of five separate long-exposures pointing the flash at different points of this arch. If you look close you can kinda see trails of me. 


No flash on this one:


Check out the rest: http://arikreisler.com/f54556045


Thanks for looking.









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