Sunday, December 12, 2010

Entertainment on Pearl Street Mall--Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado, more specifically, Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, is one of my favorite places to visit in Colorado--I am only ten minutes away. Boulder reminds me, in many respects, of Luzern, Switzerland. Pearl Street Mall, which is a pedestrian Mall opened in 1977, reminds me of New Orleans in that, when the weather is accommodating, there are many street performers entertaining the passersby. It's decent protocol to tip them...:-)

Today, my good friend Jeff and I were strolling down Pearl Street Mall on a pleasant December day. As usual, we saw several street performers. But, the one that really caught my attention this time was young and talented Henry, playing the most unique instrument I have ever seen--the Diddley Bow. This instrument, I found out later, is said to have its roots in the deep south and is of African origin, probably from the Ghana coast. It is rarely seen outside the rural south. It is played on a flat board, with a glass bottle as a bridge and either a piece of metal or glass as the slide, sort of like on a steel guitar. The instrument has a significant historical role in Blues music. Other names for it are the "jitterbug" and the "one string."

Before I show you Henry doing his thing with his Diddly Bow, here is my good friend Jeff enjoying Pearl Street Mall.

 And, here I am thoroughly enjoying Pearl Street Mall, which is at the foothills of the Rockies (you can see them in the background). I love this place! Some of my best photo images I found along Pearl Street.

And here are a few of my photographic interpretations of young Henry entertaining the crowds. Henry said, "Cool." when I told him I wanted to add him to my blog........Enjoy.

                                             Check out the amplifier next to his feet.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How To Take Good Christmas Season Photographs

Christmas, whether you are Christian or not, is a very festive season, especially if you celebrate it in the spirit of giving--either of your time, energy, skills, experience, etc. Regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, it feels good when we give. So, during this season, visit an ailing relative or friend; comfort someone in a difficult time in their life; stop and help a stranger stranded on the road with car problems; give to someone who cannot give.

Today, I give to you just a little bit of my experience and skills as a photo artist. I enjoy photographing Christmas-themed subjects. I have several, but here are a few I'd like to share with you.

 This is of the City/County building in Denver, Colorado. Exposure is fairly simple, since the scene has a good balance of darks and brights--all you need is a little bracketing, plus and minus, then fine tune later in PhotoShop if necessary. I superimposed the moon in-camera--it's important to keep it in proper perspective and not make it too big (I've seen that--yikes!). I made a slight parallel adjustment to the outside lines of the building in PS.

This is also in Denver--historic Union Station. I also adjusted the outside lines of the building with PS. If you want to get those nice blurred lines in the photo, wait until the light changes to get your shot--that way, you will photograph the cars in motion, thus the effect of blurred lines of color! Any exposure 10 seconds or longer will give you these results.

This creative design is across the street from the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Again, the exposure is fairly straight forward because of similar amounts of darks and brights. A lot of photographers, even those that consider themselves "professional," hate using tripods. I like it because it allows me to use lower ISOs (less noise/grain), use low shutter speeds (e.g., 10 sec.-1.5 minutes or more), AND fine-tune my compositions--it's hard to fine-tune compositions in PS! It's also difficult to fine-tune the correct f/stop (depth of field) in PS. My goal is to always get composition, depth of field, and exposure as good as possible in-camera, then do some fine-tuning in PS.

So, go out there and enjoy catching the colorful spirit of giving through your photography!

Enjoy, and have a great holiday season!

Eli Vega, Photo Artist

Monday, November 15, 2010

How To Take Great Winter Photos

Taking winter snowy shots can be tricky. Have you ever seen some great winter scenes, photographed them, just for them to turn out sort of grayish or bluish? Not to worry. It was 
your built-in camera meter just doing what it was designed to do--try to turn white (or black) objects as gray as it can.

This is not one of my photography classes I teach, so I'll just take a short cut and give you some quick tips (sorry, those of you with simple point and shoot cameras can e-mail me for some other options). First, assume that your meter will want to "gray down" that snow or ice scene. Now, are you ready for a counter-intuitive tip? Use your exposure compensation dial on your camera (you can find it in the index of your manual, or on the illustration at the front of your manual where it has arrows pointing to the features on top of your camera). Turn the dial so that you are overexposing, yes, overexposing the scene. Depending on how bright the scene is, and how much "whiteness" you see in the viewfinder, you will have to overexpose the scene by anywhere from 1-2 stops!!! What you're your actually achieving by doing so is getting a photo of white snow, which is what your eyes see.  

In this first example, taken in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, it was sooooo cold and the scene sooooo white that I overexposed the shot by 1 2/3 stops! As you can see, I got white.

In this second example, of the ski slopes (a Steamboat Springs image that appeared in a Colorado calendar), it wasn't as tricky. Why? Because there was more color, other than white, in the viewfinder. Therefore, the built-in meter didn't think it had to underexpose the scene as much in order for it to give me gray. Nonetheless, I still overexposed it a bit--to 2/3 of a stop overexposure.


So, unless you live in southernmost United States, go out there and experiment. You're going to amaze yourself this winter!!! Have fun.

Shoot me an e-mail anytime--I love to share my expertise, experiences, and approach to my photo art.

Eli Vega, Photo Artist

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ah yes, Autumn--When Nature Adds Color as It Loses Color

Who does not love autumn, right? You don't have to be a photographer to appreciate nature's "quilt of many colors" this time of year. Some parts of Colorado (and I'm sure other places as well) have even created a name for those of us who like to get out and look at the leaves turning: "Leaf Peepers." 

 Here are some tips to capture those awesome colors the way you remember them: 1) Overcast skies are perfect conditions. The clouds serve as a natural diffuser which makes the colors pop out!  2) On a gray day with dull skies, minimize the amount of sky in your photo  3) Don't just settle for that stunning broad view of the trees, close in and take a few shots on the ground.  4) Depending on where you live, look for what I call the surrealistic juxtaposition of two or three seasons in the same photo! If you really want to get sharp, clear photos, use a tripod or place your camera on a solid object like a fence, car hood, rock, etc.
Here are just a few (low-res) autumn images which I have in my broad collection.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Making the Common Uncommon

Sometimes, with the right lighting, right timing, right composition and visualization, we can turn the common into something more compelling. Take, for example, a simple road on a level horizon and boring power lines, or a tree and a cow trough. Such is what I saw while traveling in northeastern New Mexico.

The lighting was perfect--mid-morning; the sun behind me, with an approaching northern filled with ominous clouds in front of me. The lighting, timing, and weather conditions changed the common to the uncommon. But, as photographic artists, we need to first see the art those conditions create in order to see the created change in dynamics. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Annual Photo Trek To Telluride, Colorado

I just got back from visiting my favorite place in all of Colorado--Telluride, elevation: 8,750 feet.
The box canyon in which it peacefully rests reminds me of some parts of Switzerland.

As you can see from just these three images, it is an awesome place and area to visit. It has skiing, hiking, 4-wheeling, bicycling, mountain boarding (not for me!), shopping, great dining, annual Jazz Festival, and much more. One of the views I have included is from 10,500 feet, looking down at Telluride. If you can ever make it there, you will not want to leave.

Oh yeah, the colors in and around Telluride, as always this time of year, were awesome...

Enjoy my photo art interpretations.

Eli Vega, Photo Artist

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teaching at Front Range Community College

Please join me at Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado. I invite you to "Creating a Photographic Eye" (aka: Creating an Artistic Eye). Visit Maybe I'll see you there?

Keep shooting......

Eli Vega, Photo Artist

This image is from my Arkansas: Do You See What I See? 
It will soon be published as an e-book 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What I mean when I say, "I see something."

One of the images on my website ( is that of a wind farm in Colorado. I got up so early in the morning that the sun had not even broken the horizon. A brave friend of mine (brave in that he dared to leave with me at 5:30 in the morning) was with me at the time. I passed this scene when it was still dark, when I made the comment, "Hmm. I see something." I turned around because I "saw" something before my eyes saw it.

This is what I saw. I love to capture those moments in time when the sun begins to paint the earth...

I'll share more later about my photo art style and approach. In the meantime, enjoy.

Eli Vega, Photo Artist from Colorado