Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Most Popular Photos of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, here's a look back at my most interesting photos on Flickr for this year:

Fall Foliage at Ferncliff Cemetery
This photo I took at Ferncliff Cemetery in Westchester County is my most popular photo of all time on Flickr.  I really like the photo, but I was surprised that it became my most popular.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

5 Christmas Photo Ideas to Brighten the Holiday Season

Looking for some inspiration for your holiday photos?  Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity.

Holiday Mischief
Kids or pets getting into trouble around the decorations?  This can make for an adorable photo opportunity, not to be passed up!

Casey in the Bag (2)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thanksgiving on Cape Cod

Since my aunt lives on Cape Cod, me and several other members of my family went out there for Thanksgiving.  It may have been cold outside, but that doesn't mean there weren't gorgeous sights to photograph!

I didn't take a ton of shots with my fisheye but I got an interesting one at Mayo Beach in Wellfleet.  It's one of those shots you have to look at closely to realize it's a fisheye.  The trick is to put the horizon right in the center.

Mayo Beach Fisheye

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Video: Saratoga in Autumn

I don't do a lot of video, but I'm trying to branch out and get into it.  Here's a video I made of Autumn in my town of Saratoga Springs, NY.  It's mostly stills, with a few videos mixed in.  So far, this has been my style for videos.

Music is Night Sky Instrumental by Cary Kanno

Saratoga in Autumn from Samantha Decker on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Autumn in New York

Living only about a three hour car ride from New York, I've visited the city numerous times, but never in Autumn until just last week.  Last Saturday I took a day trip with my family and met up with a friend from college who lives in the city.  I took more than a few photos with my new fisheye lens, and I visited some areas I had never been to before.

Bryant Park

Saturday, October 26, 2013

5 Ways to Discover New Photos Online

Kearsarge Pinnacles by Moonlight
Kearsarge Pinnacles by Moonlight
by Jeff Pang is licensed under CC BY 2.0 - discovered by going through a contact's favorites

I'm always on the lookout for photos to add to my growing collection of favorites.  Photos I find online help me expand my photography, through seeing the photographers' techniques (if they share them), their gear (I know gear does not in and of itself make one a better photographer, but it can open up new possibilities), and their locations.  Following great photographers on Flickr, 500px, Facebook, or another social network is an obvious way to find new photographs, but here are a few of my own ways that you may not have tried:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Then & Now: Saratoga Springs, NY

Being from Saratoga, I love to discover old photographs of the city.  Saratoga has a long and fascinating history, centered mainly around its natural springs, grandiose hotels (most of which are no longer standing), and horse racing track, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary.  It may not be as well-known a destination as New York or Boston, two of the nearest big cities, but I can assure you there is no shortage of subjects to photograph here. I just finished a great book Saratoga Lost: Images of Victorian America by Robert Joki, which compelled me to write this post, the fourth in my series of then and now photo essays.  Most of the "then" photos are stereoscopic views, which, with a stereoscopic viewfinder, will appear 3D.  You can also cross your eyes just a little bit until you see the shot in 3D, but be careful with that method!

Saratoga Race Course grand stand then:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk 2013

I know it's somewhat overdue, but I figured I'd post it anyway.  On October 5, I participated for the second time in Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk in Saratoga Springs, NY.  In years prior to last year, I had wanted to participate, but was never available on the day of the walk.

Saratoga is a great place to photograph because there are just so many scenes, from busy streets to tranquil parks.  Since the weather was overcast this year (which is definitely not a bad thing as far as photos go!), my shots had a different feel to them than my shots from last year's walk, despite being shot in the same city.

On Broadway, I got some shots of cars zooming past, thanks to a polarizer filter that helped me slow down the shutter speed just enough to capture the motion.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sony A7/A7r Blog Reaction Roundup

Since Sony announced their full frame mirrorless cameras, the a7 and A7r, just a few days ago, my Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds have been practically taken over by reactions to this exciting new development in the camera world.  I myself have been waiting for a full frame mirrorless to hit the market, but I'm not switching over just yet.  I'd like to see some more lens options and perhaps see what the competition has to offer before I commit.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Riding the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad in Upstate New York

Fall foliage is popping here in upstate New York!  Just a few weeks ago, I went on a meetup with my photography club on the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad to look at the fall foliage along the way and take a gondola to the top of Gore Mountain.

I grabbed a shot of the conductor before we started our trip up.

Saratoga North Creek Railroad Conductor (1)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Then & Now: Paris

Here is the third in my series on then and now photos.  As I am a French teacher (see my blog, where I have cross-posted this), it shouldn't surprise you that I go to Paris every few years.  I have published to Flickr quite a large collection of photos, so I thought it fitting to do a then and now post with this iconic city.

Notre Dame then:

Notre Dame, ca. 1900
"Notre Dame" (Public Domain Image) from State Library of Victoria via WikiMedia Commons

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Then & Now: Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks

Following my last post of then and now photos of Hollywood comes a series of then and now photos taken in northwest Wyoming in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Grand Teton National Park:

Snake River Overlook then:
"The Tetons - Snake River," Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
"The Tetons - Snake River" by Ansel Adams
 (image with no known copyright restrictions) from US National Archives via Flickr

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bad Weather Doesn't Mean Bad Photos!

When I first got into photography, I made the mistake of thinking sunny skies were the best conditions for photography.  While it is possible to take great photos in these conditions, as I mentioned in a previous post, most photographers consider broad daylight to be less than desirable lighting conditions, since the sun creates such harsh shadows.

Overcast or stormy skies, while not always pleasant to be in, can create a dramatic scene for photos.  Don't assume just because the weather is gloomy that your photos will be too!  Here are some photos I have taken when the sun was nowhere to be found:

Abandoned School House in Idaho

Sunday, September 8, 2013

5 Simple Tips to Make Your Photos More Interesting

Although I do run most of my photos through Photoshop and make various edits on them, I feel strongly that the best photos start out great in the camera (in other words, if it's not a great shot in the camera, Photoshop can't help much).  These five tips I'm sharing are just a few ways you can take what might have been just a good shot and make it great.  These are NOT rules; if they were I would be breaking them left and right!  After reading through them, leave a comment sharing a way you make your photos more interesting.

1.  Use motion blur

Congress Park Carousel

Friday, September 6, 2013

Photographing Moreau Lake State Park

Trees, Stars, Sky - at Moreau Lake

Moreau Lake State Park in upstate New York was the site of some recent photo ops just last week.  I stayed with a friend overnight, which allowed me to practice some night photography using the forest as my backdrop.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Back to School!

C'est la rentrée !
Canon EOS Rebel T2i (replaced by Canon EOS Rebel T5i), Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, Adobe Photoshop CS6

C'est la rentrée !  In French, this means it's back to school!  I love this picture that I took of my classroom last year because it represents the three great interests/passions in my life:  teaching, French, and photography.  Normally I'm not still at school when the lighting is like this, but when I took this picture I was at school late for the walk through where students come meet their new teachers.  My classroom looks pretty much the same this year so no need for a new photo.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Variety is the Spice of Life!

Canon EOS 6D, Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, Adobe Photoshop CS6

Just a couple days ago B&H were kind enough to feature a few of my photos on their Facebook page.  The photos linked to my post about using a neutral density filter.  While most of the feedback was very positive, there were several negative comments (not constructive criticism), which bemoaned what the commenters felt was excessive use of Photoshop.  Now, I understand not everyone will like my work, and I don't deny that some of my photos have a significant amount of post-processing work done on them.  I do, however, think it's rude to disparage someone's work because it is not created the way you would have done it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Top 5 Reasons to Like Through the Glass on Facebook

Through the Glass is a pretty new blog, but I've decided to expand it to Facebook.  I've recently been able to see, through following other bloggers on Facebook, how useful  a tool it is for sharing your work and ideas and enjoying that of others.  Although I and other bloggers do post content to multiple social networks, Facebook is a great place to share everything - blog posts, thoughts and ideas, links, photos, etc.  So, in case you haven't started following this blog on Facebook, here is a list of reasons why you should (in no particular order):

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Make Stunning Daytime Landscapes With a Neutral Density Filter

The Snake Winds at Oxbow Bend

Have you ever wanted to capture clouds or water moving in your daytime photos but couldn't figure out how to make it work?  The process isn't really that difficult, but you will have to invest in some gear.  What you will need (besides your camera and lens):

Monday, August 19, 2013

Saratoga Race Course in Summer

Golden Morning at the Track

Saratoga Springs, NY, is a great place to be in the summer, especially in August, when the Saratoga Race Course attracts locals and tourists alike.  So far this season I have taken quite a few shots of the horses and the surrounding sights.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Four Comparison Tools You Should Use Before Buying a Camera

Thinking of buying a new camera soon?  Have it whittled down to a few choices but can't quite make up your mind?  Naturally, it doesn't hurt to read reviews of the cameras you're considering, but I also like to run the cameras through a few of these comparison tools, which give you a feature-for-feature idea of which camera is better suited to your needs.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Photographing Bennington, VT - Or, How My Style Has Changed!

A Home in Bennington

Have you ever revisited a location that you photographed a few years earlier and compared the shots you took then with the new ones?  A few weeks ago, I visited Bennington, Vermont, for the first time in several years and did just that.  I also got a few new shots, like the one above, in places I hadn't been before in Bennington.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Videography

This is somewhat of an addendum to a previous post, Photographing Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for the First Time.  I'm no pro videographer, but I have been taking some video lately and I've put together a couple of videos from my trip.  They feature both stills and video in them.  Let me know what you think!

The Glory of the Tetons from Samantha Decker on Vimeo.
Music: Born to Try (Instrumental) by Mike Kotulka

Friday, August 2, 2013

When One RAW is Enough: Learning to Work With Your DSLR's Dynamic Range

Yellowstone Lake at Dusk

Yellowstone Lake at Dusk

One of the above photos is an HDR composite of three RAW files and the other is just one RAW.  Can you tell which is which?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vintage Travel Films Offer Glimpses Into Daily Life of the Past

I know this is mainly a photography blog, but as "through the glass" is an expression that can also be used in videography, I thought this would be an appropriate avenue in which to share a really fantastic YouTube Channel.  The Travel Film Archive is chock full of videos taken all over the world from the early 1900s through the 1960s.  Many of them are silent, but still fascinating to look at.  Here are a few highlights:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Photographing Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for the First Time

The Famed T.A. Moulton Barn

Earlier this month, I visited Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks for the first time.  Before you read, please know that this post is not meant to be a guide for how to photograph these locations, as I am not an expert on this area.  I am sharing my experience here so others may see what a first timer can come away with on a trip like this.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Go Historic - A Site That Can Help You Scout Photo Locations

Go Historic is a website designed to help people find historic landmarks all over the world.  Although not designed specifically with photographers in mind, it could be very useful as a tool for finding interesting places to photograph near where you live or where you plan to visit.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Interesting Photography Subject: Benches

The Bench and Lamp Post

It seems whenever I see a bench when I'm out photographing, I'm inclined to take a picture of it.  I'm not really sure why.  What makes a bench such a good subject for a photograph?  I don't know if I can really pinpoint, all I know is that I've got quite a few bench photographs on Flickr and whole lot more sitting on my computer.  So, next time you're out photographing and you see a bench, why not see if you can make a picture of it.  You might be surprised at what you come up with.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

25 Fantastic DIY Photography Tutorials

Untitled by Richard Melanson is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

I love trying new things, especially when they cost me next to nothing. One of the best ways to expand your photographic horizons is to try a DIY project or effect. Here are some of my favorite tutorials, broken down into four categories.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

If Your Eyes Were a Lens

Photographers Eye
Photographers Eye by Garettt is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

For those of you who learn by analogy, this list of comparisons between the eye and a lens will help you understand better how exposure works.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Use People in Your Wide Shots to Make Them More Interesting

The Crowded Louvre

Sometimes we just wish we could clear all the people out of the spot we are standing so we can get a nice pictures.  Unfortunately, you often can't make the people go away, so why don't you use them to your advantage?  Sometimes people in your landscape or architectural shots can add an interesting element.  In the photo above, I used a slow shutter speed (1/25 second) that I could hand hold but that allowed me to capture the motion of the people moving past and towards the sculpture.  Adding motion blur is a great way to make the people in the photo a more interesting element.  In the photo below, I had my camera on a tripod so I was able to slow down the shutter even more (30 seconds), to create a ghostly effect.

Monday, July 8, 2013

6 Ways to Improve Your Pet Photography

Oscar at the Park

If you've ever perused my Flickr photostream, you know that I love taking pictures of my cat (as well as other people's cats and dogs).  It takes some practice to become adept at capturing our often fast-moving furry friends.  Here are some tips to help you improve your pet photography.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Photographing Fireworks Without a Tripod

Congress Park Fireworks
Canon EOS 6D, 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Av mode, 24mm, f/4, .6 seconds, ISO 1250, +1/3 EV

Admittedly this post is a little late if you were looking for tripod-less fireworks tips for Independence Day.  The shot above, however, taken on July 4, is what prompted me to write this post.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The First Post!

Hello, and welcome!  My name is Samantha Decker and I will be blogging here about all things photography related.  If you're looking for up-to-the minute news on gear, you've come to the wrong place, but I will share my thoughts on developments in the photography world.  This being the first post of Through the Glass, I thought I might lay out just a little of what you can expect from me in the months to come on this new blog:

How to take beautiful long exposure images any time of the day:
Nauset Light Beach

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