Sheila White Guevin Photographer: Blog en-us (C) Sheila White Guevin Photographer (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) Wed, 16 May 2018 04:15:00 GMT Wed, 16 May 2018 04:15:00 GMT Sheila White Guevin Photographer: Blog 80 120 Hanami

Hanami is the art of slowing down to enjoy the flowers. It is a celebration noted for its connection to Cherry Blossoms or Sakura.

Here in DC, the Cherry Blossoms arrive to great fanfare and thousands to millions of visitors. The frenzy of people crowding around the Tidal Basin can make it difficult to remember to slow down. Some days, it can make it difficult to remember to breathe.

This same frenzied rush can happen on any photo shoot. Often, photographers will talk about how on a shoot they were in such a hurry that they didn’t take time to breathe or to think. When they noticed a mistake the same shot zipped through their thoughts: “I can clean that up in post.”

For photographers the rush probably comes from an overload of adrenalin caused by nerves.

How can you change this experience?

  1. Always prepare a pack and shoot list and then use it.
  2. Remind yourself to get all the shots “right” in camera.
  3. Get to the shoot location early so you can scout out locations and prepare for any unexpected.
  4. Think quality over quantity. A few excellent photographs are always better than a bucket full of average.

Hanami – slow down – enjoy the flowers.


]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) annapolis photographer camera basics creating photo art hanami perspective photographer photography sakure sheila white guevin blog slowdown smell the flowers technique Wed, 16 May 2018 04:14:28 GMT
Behind Door Number One


This was photographed using a 24-70mm lens at F4. By putting the focus on the light on the handrail, it creates a photograph that draws the viewer into the frame and toward the closed door.

Doors are used in stories and mythology to create mystery. They can protect those who live within; or maintain a secret; or seclude a sacred space. For me, this door looks like a dozen others in my childhood small town and by using the soft focus, it becomes any number of doors and holiday memories from my life.

Shallow depths of field (DOF) give the viewer a fuzzy glimpse at the subject forcing them to create the rest of the image in their own imaginations. It can bring romance to an otherwise average location.

Here the soft shallow DOF evokes the traditional Christmas feel of any home. For me, I can feel the crisp cold air and smell the warm cookies just coming out of the oven.

We can only guess what happy surprises await us behind this closed door.





]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) annapolis photographer baltimore camera basics christmas christmas lights christmas photos color composition creating photo art fine art photography fine art photography annapolis hampden hampden md maryland photographer miracle on 34th miracle on 34th street night photographs night photography night photos perspective photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique Tue, 05 Dec 2017 05:53:01 GMT
Story Telling in a Photograph Miracle on 34th Street, Hampden, MDHere a black SUV sits on the street in Baltimore. The Hampden 34th Street is a block in the city where every home is lit up in Christmas lights. 2017 is the 71st year of this event!

One of my favorite composition techniques is to tell the story in a reflective surface.


Reflections give a distorted view of the scene often making me and the viewer look closer.


Here a black SUV reflected the lights from different angles and so the eye has a different perspective of the street depending on which surface you are viewing. From the back of the SUV you can tell both sides of this street is lined with light covered houses. From the side, you can see that they are row homes with porches. From the lights showing across the street you get that gentle bokeh casting of being just out of focus.


Centered to the back side window, a lit Nativity scene with a star. 


This is "The Miracle on 34th Street" Hampden, MD, which is a Baltimore location. 2017 marks the 71st year of this event. An entire block of city townhomes that sparkle in lights from head to toe. They light up around the 30th of November and run through the 30th of December every night. The street remains open to car traffic which allows you to drive through the block. Parking is premium around the neighborhood and sidewalks are bursting to the seams. There are no outside vendors.


Of my favorites is a home that features the mustaches man from Natty Boh, a local beer, and the girl from the Utz potato chips. Other highlights include a hub cap tree, a big lit up red crab and a tree decorated in angels made from recycled Natty Boh beer cans.  





]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) annapolis photographer baltimore camera basics christmas christmas lights hampden hampden md maryland photographer miracle on 34th miracle on 34th street perspective photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:32:20 GMT
Zoom Burst


The first question intermediate and advanced photographers ask when viewing a photograph like this is "What is the EXIF?"  This is the information about the camera settings.  


This photograph was shot using a 24-70 mm lens. Aperture was set at F10. ISO 100. Shutter speed 1/2 second. Starting point was 28mm and zoom was away from the subject.   Using these settings gave me a clean center, in this case the building and allowed it to be as in focus as possible while giving a zoom burst effect to the surrounding Christmas lights.


When you look at the burst lines, you see they are very straight. This means that the camera was stabilized in some manner. Either using a tripod, a monopod, setting the camera on a stable location (which doesn't work well with the zoom effect because you must move the lens while the shutter is open) or hand held in a stable standing position.

Hand holding like this requires a lot of practice, otherwise, you get very squiggly lines. I rarely take a tripod, so most likely this was shot hand held. My stance is to hold my camera with my right hand, feet about 18 inches apart, and then I take a breath, not a big deep breath but a slightly bigger than usual and I blow air out through pursed lips while shooting. At the same time, you need to twist the telephoto lens away from the subject to a wider angle. 


To try this technique, I recommend you start with a tripod and also that you start with a shorter shutter speed. 1/30 then move to 1/20, then to 1/15, eventually working your way up to the 1/2 second. Also, it is important that you use an ISO of 100-400 so that you get nice clean light and colors. Higher ISO will blow out the lights causing them to both lose color and clarity.


The third tip is don't worry about how fast you move the lens. Steady movement creates a better photograph than fast movement.


Zoom burst can be used in many situations to give an awesome in camera special effect.


Zoom zoom!





]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) annapolis photographer camera basics christmas light photography christmas lights fine art photography fine art photography annapolis maryland photographer mormon lights night photographs night photography night photos perspective photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique zoom zoom burst zoom effect Sun, 03 Dec 2017 17:36:05 GMT
Light and Bright


The emotional impact of a photograph can be found in many of the elements such as composition, placement of the subject(s), lighting, use of negative space, shadows, and color.


Here I used a technique called "high key".  The key light is the primary light used to light a subject. Key light is usually the first light placed in studio lighting. This is usually the brightest light used and the fill lights are used to soften shadows or craft the look of the final product. But in high key, not only is the key light used to create as few shadows as possible, very bright and light, the fill lights also are placed in a manner that reduces or eliminates contrast and shadows.


Here the lights flood the subject to the point of blowing out the highlights in some areas. The use of bright light in the photo evokes a crisp snow like appeal giving the peppermints the feel of a wintery day.

Emotionally the impact is light and airy and crisp.



]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) camera basics christmas photos color composition creating photo art high key perspective photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique Sat, 02 Dec 2017 13:40:29 GMT
Carol of the Balls Carol of the BallsA musical composition as a photograph.


We often find ourselves drawn to simple compositions with repetitive elements. It is the appeal of a zen garden full of stones, raked patterns in sand, or snow falling from the sky. There is something peaceful in the repetition and a musical element of rhythm.


Here the balls mimic the pattern of notes across a page and evoke the sounds of Christmas carols with their bright holiday colors.


The frame literally "frames" the elements giving them  more value. And the balls which drop just outside the frame work reinforce that this is a three dimensional piece of work.


There is a brightness with the color that evokes happy Christmas memories, but also a repetitive use of the gold tones which appear in the wall, the frames and several of the balls. The use of a single color pattern gives a sense of completeness and calm. 


Finally, a controlled chaos is found in both the simplicity of the composition and creating this photograph from a straight on perspective. Both the frame and the straight lines keep the colorful balls within its "boundaries". 


Photographs like this lend themselves well to editorial print work. Where a quick glance tells a familiar story and draws the reader into an article by complimenting but not overwhelming the topic. 


While you are out taking photographs this Christmas season, look for subjects use repetitive elements and rhythm to tell the story.

]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) camera basics christmas photos color composition creating photo art online photos class perspective photo tips photographer photography rhythm sheila white guevin blog Fri, 01 Dec 2017 16:06:01 GMT
One in Two Billion DreamscapeDreamscape

One image in 2 billon.

As of 2017, there are an estimate 7.5 billion people in the world.

Based on 2014 statistics, there are 1.8 billion photographs loaded up to the Internet on a daily basis.

 So for 2017, I am just going to call that 2 Billion photographs a day or 750 Billion photographs a year.

Smart phone users in the US take an average of 7 photos a day. They look at their phone an average of 46 times a day. Does it surprise you that on the list of cell phone use actual calls come in at #5 and are on the decline?

As a photographer, these statistics haunt me and lead me to asking a lot of questions.

  1. Why am I shooting this?
  2. What is the point?
  3. Does it add anything to the conversation of life?
  4. Is this my best work?

In the editing stage, I ask another set of questions.

  1. Which of these photos tell the story?
  2. Which photos have the most impact?
  3. If I can only post one photo which one will it be?


That is the number of photos needed to be heard in this daily deluge.

One really good photo can stop the viewer and allow them to really see your work.  A group of photos, has them just glancing at each one and zipping along their way.

If you truly want to be seen and you want to be heard in this storm, learn to cull and edit your photos to ONE.


]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) 1.8 billon 7.5 billon conversation culling editing one people perspective photographer photographs photography sheila white guevin blog statistics technique voice Thu, 27 Jul 2017 15:38:20 GMT
One New Thing

When I reach a stagnant point in my photography, my art, my life, I always go back to this. Do one thing different. 

This week, I am trying two. Tonight, my husband Paul and I are going to take our first ever dance class together. We are going to attempt the very basic walking steps of the Argentine Tango.  We met the Annapolis Tango group last month, when I was invited to photograph a workshop. The group expanded their inner circle far enough to include Paul and I in their event. Though we were watchers, many of the Tango dancers spoke to us about what they loved about the group and the dance.

What ever we bring positive and negative to the experience, our love of music and our in-ability to dance, we are open to the experience.

This may be the type of adventure, where we never speak of it again. 

Even if it just for tonight, we will Tango.

I am stepping out in other ways too.

More often that one would imagine, people approach me to ask about technique or to ask if I want to go out and try a new technique with them. 

Recently I saw a post saying there are 101 specialties in photography. Adding Rodeo photography to their ever growing list. What this means is you can be an amazing and recognized photographer in one area of specialty and far less experienced in another. 

The problem is once you've established as a photographer you wouldn't really want to be seen as failing in another area, such as night photography. 

I immersed into digital photography six years ago (2010). Over that time period, one phrase seems to be repeated often and resonates with me.

"I'm a natural light photographer" means "I don't know how to use lights."

While this may not be true and often isn't it is commonly accepted that someone who only uses natural light probably isn't comfortable with other light sources. So how do they balance their thriving natural light business with dabbling in studio lights or night lighting? They find a group where they can learn and fail and not be judged.

After six years and complete immersion in this digital photo world, I am still learning; still experimenting; and still willing take you along on the ride regardless of your skill level.

So I jumped in to start a "Meetup" group that will allow me to do this.

Last fall, there was an informal meetup of people who inspired this group. We took our left over fall pumpkin. One person cut a face into it (Thank you T). Leslie is our resident fireworks person and great at adding suggestions on how we can get a bigger brighter flame. Paul was our experimental guy with the flammable objects. And I, the idea person, manned the camera and the tripod. 

Team pumpkin hoped for a success and planned to accept the epic fail. Cause if you are going to fail, do it big! We also took a lot of safety precautions and had someone manning the hose, because failing big meant getting a really bad photo, not burning down the house!! We had a blast. Nothing burned but the pumpkin!

And that is all I have to say about this.

Step out. Step on. Getting moving. Dance. And embrace the epic fail.



]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) challenge do one thing different meetup group perspective photographer photography technique Fri, 18 Mar 2016 21:03:36 GMT
the Insight project; executing a vision Eye photos taken during Artomatic 2015


Artomatic 2015 opens the 30th of October and runs through the 12th of December--six weeks of the area’s largest collaborative artists’ show. The Artomatic experience includes 2D, 3D and performing artists with special event nights tossed into the mix. Un-juried. Uncensored. It is artistic freedom at its best. Think an overload of ideas and color. You don’t attend Artomatic as much as you immerse yourself and experience Artomatic.


For me, Artomatic began with a building in Arlington, VA in 2012. Paul and I were just two of the 70,000 plus visitors to attend the event and experience the work of over 700 artists. The impact was so profound that I can still recall many of the exhibits. A twelve floor office building was filled with paintings, drawings, photos, sculptures, lights and more and still my recall of some of the exhibits is crystal clear:

  1.       A photographer who put together visual triptychs of phrases like “rock, paper, scissors” “peanut butter and jelly sandwich” “duck, duck, goose”
  2.       An artist that collected postcards of people’s secrets. In anonymity, people revealed secrets they were willing to unburden through this project. You could add to the collection if you felt drawn to do so.
  3.       An artist whose nude photos of real women of all shapes and sizes had an interactive piece where you could post your own notes about body image and how the American advertising standard affected you and your life.
  4.       There were old book jackets made into pocketbooks and sculptures.
  5.       A collection photographs of vanity license plates.
  6.       A performance by Dance-a-fire. A troupe of performing artists who play with fire.

Two thoughts lingered with me, long after the exhibit was over. One is that in all my wanderings through museums and galleries, I had never experienced anything quite like Artomatic. The second was how much I wanted to participate as an artist instead of a patron.

My first step was to follow them through Facebook and to sign up for e-mails directly from their web-site (

In the three years that have passed since the last Artomatic, I’ve had plenty of time to imagine an exhibit. In my head, I have painted walls with chalkboard paint, exhibited just Cherry Blossom photos, produced exhibits of portraits, imagined a wall with only my best work, and wondered what if I could create an interactive exhibit piece.

Between real clients, managing my web-site, joining local art groups here in Maryland, and exhibiting, I still have quiet times when my imagination can run wild. In that free space, I created my exhibit a hundred different ways.

This past summer, Artomatic announced they found space and would go live again in October 2015. That is when the real work began. It was time to filter through the hundred random thoughts in my brain and create an executable game plan.

My first goal was to create a cohesive exhibit. Since it is un-juried, the responsibility to put together my exhibit was entirely on me.

My second goal was to attempt to put together something memorable that would stand out in the chaos of art overload.

My third goal was to find a way to make the exhibit engaging and interactive to the viewer.

From this thought process, “the Insight project” was born.

Jumping in where angels fear to tread has been a lifetime flaw of mine. So after I gathered up the first twenty photographs, I immediately went to booking the exhibit at other locations. It is an in for a penny, in for a pound philosophy. This also cranked up the pressure.

As I type this, photos are matted, framed and hanging in my Artomatic space just waiting for the opening. I’ve set up a working studio so people visiting the location have the option to sign a model release and have their eye macro shot added to the collection along with their written insight. I am hopeful that the patrons will find the project fun and memorable.

Going from photographer to a photographer that exhibits has been more about executing my vision than talent. About breaking the project down into doable pieces and executing it from the basic version to the complete vision.

And while I look forward to seeing and interacting with people at Artomatic 2015, my dream would be that my journey or work inspires another artist to break free and exhibit with the next Artomatic. 


Sheila White Guevin

20 October 2015

]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) AOM2015 Artomatic Camera basics Sheila White Guevin Blog perspective photographer photography technique the Insight project Tue, 20 Oct 2015 22:14:48 GMT
Climbing up the Ladder  

Climbing a ladder is symbolic of success in the corporate world. It can also literally represent success in photography.

Shooting your photos from a different angle will take you outside the box of the everyday shooter.

Groups especially require the ladder for simple math reasons.  Remembering that the objects closest to the camera will appear larger, if you line up people into several rows, the front row people will appear larger and the people at the back will appear smaller when shot from eye level position. But when you go up the ladder, if you measured everyone from their noses to the camera lens, you would find there are now less variances in the distance and so less distortion in the sizes. For really large groups, you can stack them, kneeling, sitting standing, standing on a riser and get a large number of people into a small space. Go up the ladder and suddenly you have a very balanced photo.





Since we view the world from eye level, using the ladder can make a photo more interesting just because of the change of perspective.

The opposite is also true.

When working with children or pets, I kneel down so that I am now at their eye level.


When shooting objects like a seashell on the beach, you will find me laying on the ground, so that once again I am viewing the object at its level. Ground level also works well for some landscapes, pet photos, and to get nice leading lines on roads and foot bridges.

While carrying the ladder around to shoot can raise some eyebrows, I have also had police officers stop in their cruisers while I am laying on the ground or getting up, to ask if I am “Okay?” I always assume they mean physically and assure them I am just fine.




This week you will literally change your perspective by going high or going low.

For high, you can also find elevated areas such a stairs. When shooting from elevations, it is good to have an assistant or spotter with you as there is a slight risk this may cause you a little vertigo. Also, my ladder of choice is a very sturdy aluminum paint ladder under 6 feet high and with that nice tray area for placing equipment (other than my camera).

Some photographers use knee pads for going low especially when shooting things like parades where they want to pop down and back up quickly on hard surfaces.

]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) Camera basics Sheila White Guevin Blog ladder perspective photographer photography technique Tue, 24 Mar 2015 22:08:48 GMT
Lens Capped  

Staying inspired to create new work is an on-going battle for most creative types.

Writers call that dead zone “writer’s block”.  Wayne Labat used his blog to coin a term for photographers – “lens capped”. Call it what you want, it is when you come to the realization that there is nothing new under the sun. Lens capped is a feeling that taking another photo might be pointless. Knowing that out there, someone else has a better artistic approach, a better camera, a better… well everything, including attitude.

Here are a few techniques I use when I feel the inspiration waning and the blahs starting to take over:


1.       I ask friends to recommend a web-site, a book, or a new technique or style they are working on.  Just like when I was a kid looking for something to do on a rainy day. Call a friend and ask “What cha doing?”

2.       Follow a thread around the Internet. Choose any topic and start searching.  This does not have to be photography related and in fact, often is not. I was sewing on a button and saw a spool of red thread. I couldn’t remember why I had purchased the red thread, but then had this thought that red thread is symbolic in other cultures. So it starts. Red thread. Immediately I start finding references to it, a book based on the red thread connection, photographs of red thread and so on.  I may decide to photograph literal red thread or maybe just friends who are connected by the invisible red thread. Or I may divert off course and see that blue thread is more interesting, which leads to old mills in the US that are open to photographers and there I go down another rabbit hole of inspiration.

3.       Take a shower. That is just one of the random tasks that often allows the mind to relax and flow freely. It is the “Eureka” experience.

4.       Housework. The opposite of allowing the mind to enjoy and relax is making it work. Physical labor has a way of bringing on ideas – for me. I don’t know why this works. Maybe the smell of cleaners stimulates my need to escape the work. Perhaps the repetitive task of motion used in cleaning. Maybe it is the feeling of completing a task brings a sense of satisfaction which shatters the blahs. The best part of trying this one is if it doesn’t work you end up with a clean office, or a clean kitchen, or a closet full of clean clothes. It is a win-win solution.

5.       Give yourself a day off. The do nothing day. Put on pajamas. Watch TV. Read a book. Plan to do NOTHING constructive. Just give yourself a break.

6.       Accept that not every project is going to be a winner. Alternatively, I call this embracing the EPIC FAIL. I like to try something new and often my first bite at the apple doesn’t work out nearly as well as it did in my brain. I see a photo I love. I want to try it. Let’s go with my first long exposure of water. I set it up and shot it and it is very overexposed. Ridiculously unusable. I had no idea why. I had seen dozens of this style shot and those all looked fine. Mine was an EPIC FAIL. I did an internet search and found out that for this type of shot I needed a neutral density filter. I didn’t say “yippee something else to buy”. I didn’t immediately run out and buy one or a dozen. I first decided if I will I ever need to take this photo? Is this something I wanted to invest in? How many other ways could you use a neutral density filter?

Some EPIC FAILS have lead to a better understanding of my camera; learning a new technique; or an artistic style which I can tweak and make my own. Some have lead to me owning a neutral density filter or two.

7.       Music is my go to for breaking out of my blah patterns. It comes in two forms. Listening and being happy that the Ipod has made it all so portable. A world of music in the palm of my hand. Joy beyond words. Or playing music. I am fortunate that I find solace and joy in playing the piano. It consumes my mind in a way nothing else can.

8.       Visit a museum. Any museum will do, but it certainly helps when you have the Smithsonian museums just 30 minutes away. National Gallery of Art is my favorite. Not just for the paintings and art, but also the gift shop and the underground café. The stimulation of colors, patterns, people, and lives of the artists are all enough to set me off in a new direction.

9.  (Ross Scribner) You can set up your own album for free or pay $20 a year for bonus benefits. Take a photo every day and post it. The range of photographers is newbies to old-bies from casual to professional artists. There are fun competitions in which winning is the only prize. Just scanning through the “trending” or “popular” category will motivate you. But taking a photo every day, will hone your skills in one year beyond your expectations no matter what your skill level is when you start. It is harder and more rewarding than you can anticipate.

10.   Read: "Steal like an artist" by Austin Kleon. And then do just that... steal like an artist.


Time to stop reading this blog and take the lens cap off.


About the photo in this blog post.

National Aquarium, Baltimore, Inner Harbor. Taking some time away to watch the dolphins play. This photo is what I term a "snapshot". It isn't meant to be an artistic masterpiece. There is not some technique used to elevate it . It is a photo that could have been taken by any camera, any photographer, and at any time. Just one of those photos that makes me smile and reminds me, I can always just take an afternoon and go watch the dolphins play. 




]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) Camera basics Sheila White Guevin Blog an artist austin block capping epic fail inspiration kleon lens like photographer photography steal technique writer's Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:51:22 GMT
Any Idiot with a Camera  

One of my favorite photos is a long exposure of the Jefferson Memorial taken just before sunrise, in the minutes before the sun breaks the horizon. It was a quiet moment one Tuesday morning in March of 2013, when only half dozen photographers were shooting. As the sun came into view, I packed up to go home fighting my way through the hordes of photographers who showed up just as I was leaving.

Last fall, the photo was on display at a military spouse’s event when a woman walked up and commented, “Everyone has shot a version of that photograph”.

This is just one of the many discouraging things people will say to you on your photographic journey. Here are a few more:


1.       No real photographer uses the automatic of P settings on their camera.

2.       My friend takes better photos with her iphone.

3.       Any idiot with a camera can (fill in the blank)



#1 –When the photographer says "I don’t shoot in automatic or on P; I only shoot manual and RAW". Shooting in manual and RAW identifies that the photographer has more than a casual working knowledge of their camera. However, I also hear people say this to diminish the less experienced photographer. Here is my advice, put your camera on Auto and get out there and take photos.

Find a good mentor or on-line group and actively learn to use every feature on your camera. I highly recommend the  The 365project is a fabulous community and great safe environment in which to learn. Everyone on the site loves to take photographs and there is a large range of equipment from phones to professional cameras. Most are very willing to share their knowledge and technique. I’ve not been photo shamed once on this site.

Remember that  Auto and P are on the camera for a reason. Don’t be embarrassed by using them.

#2– There are several variations of “my friend takes better photos with her Iphone”.

 Mostly I hear the variation where someone with an extensive technical knowledge likes to point out that they can take better photos with a cell phone than you can with your very new, very expensive camera.

The reference point is, it is the photographer not the camera that makes the photo great.

There is a truth in that concept. It is the dancer not the shoes. It is the painter, not the brushes. It is the musician, not the instrument. But, given a choice, I would rather work with a great instrument.

So if you have an expensive camera and can only shoot on the auto setting, well, good for you. Shoot, shoot and then when you are done get out there and shoot some more.

Don’t sit the camera on a shelf like some beautiful piano that spends its life as a silent piece of furniture.

Now go back to step#1, because it just gets better the more you know!

#3 –Photographers who’ve been commercially successful throughout the film era can be bitter about the ability of the new digital cameras. Photos that were once only possible by applying an in-depth technical knowledge are now possible with many cheap point and shoot cameras.

Add insult to injury, when post editing can turn a passable photo into interesting art.  The learning curve of software like Photoshop has newbies pushing the limits of experienced photogs.  In response to this, the established photographers quickly coined a phrase that is useable with a variety of endings. It goes “Any idiot with a camera can”.

Recently the project of one such idiot with a camera (Brandon Stanton) has gone viral and the impact of his work is making a difference. If you are not familiar with his photoblog “Humans of NY” this is a good time to follow him on Facebook. Stanton’s response to being suddenly unemployed was to take his camera out for a walk on the streets of New York City to photograph and document the stories of people he met along the way.

Was his camera set on automatic? Do his friends take better photos? Did his lack of expertise stop him?

I love that any idiot with a camera can make a difference.

I want to be that kind of idiot.

What about you?

]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) Sheila White Guevin Blog photographer photography technique Thu, 19 Feb 2015 21:40:55 GMT
Stop, stop, stop  

Last day of the BIG THREE



ISO is set in response to how the sensor will register the available light. Tv (time value) is how fast or slow the shutter opens and closes. Fast lets in less light. Slow lets in more light.

Today, it is the final point in our BIG THREE. We have aperture. This is the size of the opening in which the light passes.

It is best when we imagine the settings as fractions so 22 is 1/22 and a very, very small opening. Like squinting on a very bright day. While 22 is very small, 2.8 would be a very large opening and allow in lots and lots of light.

All lenses have a sweet spot in aperture. This is where they produce the best and most clear photos.

For most lenses, the sweet spot is around F/8 – F/11. We will often hear the aperture settings referred to as stops.

Portrait photographers LOVE the little F stops.  F 2.8 and F 1.4 are selected to produce a photograph with very soft background.  Portrait photogs like to call this “creamy.” Technical photographers will tell you this is a shallow “depth of field.”

On the other end of the scale is the f/22 and higher. The bigger number F stops are used for photographing  landscapes. By selecting the smaller opening, you get a larger depth of field, which is great when you want the people in the foreground and say mountains in the background to ALL be in focus.

Beyond getting a correct exposure, your style of photography and your desired depth of field are two items considered in determining the proper F stop setting. 

Today’s assignment is focused on the artistic use of an F stop.




Choose the Av setting on your camera (Aperture value).


You will need your camera and a subject .

Stand the person in front of a distant object such as a house or building.


1.       Set the aperture to F/2.8 or the lowest possible setting you can get on your lens, which may be F/4. Focus on the person and take your photograph.Take one photo of just their head and shoulders. Now step back and take a second photo which captures their entire body.

2.       Do not change anything about the subject or background, but do change your aperture to F/8 or F/11. Take a second set of photos.

3.       This time change the aperture to the highest setting, which is the smallest hole, F/18 or F/22. Take your third set of photos.


Compare all photos and make notations so you can remember which setting produces which results.




Look at today’s blog photo. Can you guess the settings?




Aperture:                           F 2.8

ISO:                                        200

Shutter speed:                 1/2000 of a second



]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) Camera basics F-Stop Sheila White Guevin Blog aperture photography technique Mon, 09 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Click, click, click goes the shutter  


Part two – Shutter Speed


What is shutter speed?

It is merely how fast the shutter opens and closes.

The faster the shutter, the smaller the amount of light that hits the sensor.

The slower the shutter, the larger the amount of light that hits the sensor.

Fast shutters stop action.

Slow shutters are great for night photos or to intentionally blur the motion.

Shutter speed is in fractions so 1/200 is much faster than 1/15. After the fractions go away, it moves to actual seconds. 1 is open for 1 second. 3 is open for 3 seconds.

There are some photos where the photographer is looking to artistically use the motion blur you get with a slow shutter, but when the effects are not desirable, we can stabilize the body of the camera by placing it on a tri-pod.

Lenses also can have built in stabilizers to assist in reducing blur for hand held shots. However, the stabilizers are only effective if the camera is reasonably steady, so they become ineffective at longer shutter speeds and a tripod or stabilizing the body of the camera becomes essential.

In the last blog we learned that the lower the ISO (100) the brighter the light needs to be or the more light we need.

The higher the ISO (52,600) the less light we need.

Apply this to a dimly lit situation such as lighting a few candles in a large room. If we set the ISO to 100 we will need to use a very slow shutter speed to allow sufficient light to register on the sensor. If we set the ISO to 52,600 we will can use a faster shutter speed to get the same results.

Beyond the technical, there are many artistic reasons to choose a fast or slow shutter speed.

To stop the motion of a speeding car, you need a very fast shutter. 

To stop the motion of just one moving object, you might decide on a method called “panning”. With panning, use a slightly slower shutter, say 1/30 of a second, then “pan” or follow the moving object at the speed in which it is moving while taking your photo. This gives the appearance of the object being still in frame while giving a sense of motion to rest of the photo or anything not moving at an equal speed.  You can try a panning shot on moving cars, runners, bicycles, etc. It takes some practice but gives you a very interesting photograph. Today’s blog photo features a taxi cab using the panning method.

You can select a longer shutter speed to get the creamy effect with waterfalls or a glass-like effect on moving water. Please note that doing this under most lighting conditions will require adding a “neutral density” filter to your lens. Opening a shutter for a second under most daylight conditions would over expose the photo leaving you a very white photograph with little to no detail.

I love night photography, so the slow shutter and a tri-pod are two of my favorite tools. I need the camera sensor to be exposed long enough to see the night lights, the way I see the night lights. My camera sensor is so amazingly sensitive, that it sees color at very low lights significantly better than I see it.

Add people, a flash and a long shutter speed in front of a night lit city and you get wonderfully lit subjects in the front of the photo with night lights coming through behind them. This is especially fun at Christmas.

As you master your camera, you will find the shutter speed plays a huge roll in your artistic choices. We will have many future assignments that call for controlling the shutter as we learn to master the camera, but for today’s assignments, we are going to try just two simple shutter speed techniques that won’t require you purchase any additional equipment.


Assignment for shutter speed:

To change just the shutter speed and let the camera choose the other settings, pick the “Tv” button on your camera. Tv stands for “time value”.


1.    Set a fast shutter speed and stop the motion of a moving object like a car or a running dog. You should start a 1/200th and then experiment with changing it to faster or slower till you stop the motion and maintained a sharp focus.


2.    To play with a slow shutter, you can try a version of light painting. After dark, set a slow shutter for 1 second. Have an assistant use a flash light to write words or patterns while facing the camera. Any flash light will do for this shutter speed experiment. This can be done inside any room in the house with no lights on. You will need to focus the camera first, then set it to manual before turning the lights off. As you gain confidence, slow down the shutter from 1 to 3 seconds or longer.



]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) Camera basics Sheila White Guevin Blog photography shutter speed shutter speed basics technique Sun, 08 Feb 2015 06:29:50 GMT
ISO - Part one of the BIG THREE  

The Big Three

Part One: ISO

This is a three-part look at ISO, shutter speed and aperture. If you are ready to move past the automatic settings and take control of your camera, you will need a basic working knowledge of these three variables.

For a more in-depth look, the Internet is a great resource for free articles and videos.

Digital ISO and film ISO have a strong correlation. So if you remember how film ISO worked, you will easily move to digital ISO. 

To select ISO for film cameras you needed to know the light of your shooting conditions. Film boxes often came with a chart for picking the right ISO.

ISO 100 was for very bright sunny days and studio lights.

 ISO 200 was for mostly sunny daylight to partially cloudy.

 ISO 400 was a versatile film geared for cloudy days, but one that could create acceptable photos on sunny days by using a faster shutter speed and in dimmer situations by using a slower shutter speed and a flash. ISO 400 was an all-around film for mixed light.

ISO 800 was the choice for inside and on-camera flash.

Back when Kodachrome was more than a Paul Simon song, photographers chose the film ISO according to the conditions under which they expected to be shooting.  While ISO of 400 was the most versatile, it did not produce the best results in all situations.  ISO choice had a direct effect on the quality of your photos.

Film ISO basics were the lower the number, the more light you needed or less sensitive the film was. The higher the ISO, the less light you needed and the more sensitive the film was. Low light film and conditions produced readable photos, but that often came with a grainy look.

Digital ISO has a similar light chart.  An ISO of 100 requires that a lot of light get to the sensor. If I push the ISO to 25,600 (and yes, you read that right, which makes it 256 times more sensitive than a 100 ISO) I can get a readable image in a barely lit situation, however, this ability comes with “noise.” Both grain and noise are undesirable side effects from shooting in less than ideal conditions.

Unlike film, the sensor does not become more sensitive to light as the ISO increases. Instead, the camera digitally increases the color signature for each cell or individual sensor.

The other huge advantage of digital is that you can change the ISO for each individual shot.  This is great for when your lighting conditions are constantly changing from outside, to bright light, to inside and more.

Take a look at ISO 100: Imagine a perfect sunny day at the beach, where the colors are beautiful and vibrant, the sensor registers variations of the three color bands(red, blue and green) on each pixel sensor at around 85%. Now, on that same beach on a very cloudy day, the sensor sees the same scene but registers the colors at only 10%. If printed at 10% the photo would be dark and lacking in resolution. 

One option on our gray day is to change the ISO from 100 to 800. This increases the value of our registered color from 10% to 8 times higher at 80%. This virtually allows the camera to register more light as a color signature.

The downside of increasing the ISO is that the sensor may also register electronic waves as a version of light. This is called “noise.” So when I push up the sensor reading to be 8 times more sensitive, my other readings are 8 times more sensitive. This means the noise that was not visible on my sensor at 100 ISO is now 8 times stronger.

Sensors are categorized both by pixels and size. As a rule, the bigger the sensor, the bigger the pixels. These larger sensors register a lower amount of noise and a higher dynamic range. Newer generation sensors are less sensitive to noise and this is why many of the expensive full frame sensor cameras give you a cleaner photo with less noise at the lower light levels.

Shooting on automatic, the camera makes choices in an attempt to give you the best quality photo by balancing the ISO, shutter speed and aperture.  But the choice is purely a hypothetical game of math for the camera and this becomes obvious when the wrong object is in focus or perfectly exposed.

Artistic control in the digital world, always starts with technical knowledge.

Tomorrow, we will continue this journey by taking a technical glimpse at shutter speed.

Assignment One:

Pick a location where you can spend 15-20 minutes shooting.   Select “P” for program. If you don’t know how to select a feature on your camera and move around the different settings this is a good time to get out your manual or check on the Internet.

Using the existing light at the location -  take a photo at ISO 100 and then take the same photo at ISO 200 and keep going higher till you have a set of photos at each ISO. The camera will modify the other two from the BIG THREE so all your photos should be readable.

Upload your photos to your computer and notice the differences. This is a visual art. It is all about seeing the results of the camera you shoot.


Note: There are two things you may have put away when you got the camera out of the box. One is the user guide or manual; the other is the lens hood. This is a good time to go get both. Even when you can switch easily among the settings, it is always a good idea to have your user guide around when you need it. And as you learn the technical aspects of your camera – you are going to need it.

]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) BIG THREE Camera basics ISO Sheila White Guevin Blog circular learning photography technique Sat, 07 Feb 2015 17:01:02 GMT
Going Around in Circles  

About a decade ago while I was teaching piano, a friend introduced me to the concept of circular learning. Prior to this, I had a more linear understanding of both teaching and learning.

The linear concept, for the theory of learning, is that once you have learned something you move onto the next step or level and continue to do so until you have mastered your art or skill.

When we look at circular learning, we realize that while we do learn a core set of skills, we often circle back and learn them again in a different light.

In math, I might learn the one apple plus one apple equals two apples. But then I get an orange and may have to relearn that the concept that applied to the apples applies to the orange, so one orange plus one orange equals two oranges.

Once I have generalized this knowledge, I can move onto applying this to two of any object until someone hands me one orange and one apple. I don’t have two apples. I don’t have two oranges, but I do still have two. So I learn that one apple and one orange equals two fruit.

 And for years, I apply the one plus one principal and am happy doing so. I feel very confident I have mastered the skill, till the day I walk into a classroom and my math teacher puts up a problem that looks like this: x + 1 = 2. What is the value of x?

Nothing has actually changed in this situation, except how I see the concept of one plus one equaling two.

This understanding of circular learning has helped me accept that no matter how well I know a subject, going back to the basics may bring me to a new and better understanding.

You can apply this to reading a book. If you read any book when you are in middle school and again when you are in college and yet again when you are an adult, your understanding of the book will significantly shift. The same is true for viewing a movie. Life experience and other knowledge will significantly change the perspective and the nuances of the story.

Embracing this concept has opened a whole new attitude in learning from me.  I now accept that even though the material hasn’t changed, I may have changed and with it my understanding. This has made me a far better student. I am now able to take a second look at something I think I know and both confirm the knowledge I have while often seeing it from a new perspective.

Like many photographers, I have been taking photos for a long time. I got my first Kodak instamatic camera sometime in the 1960’s. And like many older photographers, almost everything I knew about taking photos changed suddenly when digital cameras made their appearance.

I bought my first DSLR in January 2011 and it was one plus one equals two all over again.

In the past few years, several friends have encouraged me to share my journey with the intent of taking their photography skills to the next level. Then one friend asked if I would consider a blog - a blog in which I would share the techniques and the stories behind my photographs.

So here it is.

Welcome to my blog. My only advice is be prepared to do a little laughing and little crying and a lot of singing and dancing as we are going around in circles.


Sheila White Guevin

3 February 2015



Will it go round in circles?

Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?

Will it go round in circles?

Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?


Billy Preston – from the album “Music is My Life” - 1972

]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) Sheila White Guevin Blog blog circular learning photographer photography technique Tue, 03 Feb 2015 16:14:34 GMT
Nothing to Say Now that I have figured out how to start a blog on this site, I have nothing to say.


We know that won't last long.



]]> (Sheila White Guevin Photographer) Sheila White Guevin Blog photographer photography Tue, 03 Feb 2015 03:54:02 GMT