Xiomáro MNHP Workshop Video 1

Morristown National Historical Park

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Hey, I'm Xiomáro. I'm a nationally exhibited artist, curator, uh published author and teacher. I had to think for a second about some of the stuff I've done. But, uh, I'm here at Jockey Hollow on a nice sunshine, breezy day and, uh, I want you to know that I have an exhibit, uh, at the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center here at Morristown National Historical Park. It's up on June 6th. It will continue to July 31st 2021. It's free of charge. And these are photos I took of the Jockey Hollow area so do check that out. Also I'll be presenting, um, a video at some point that's gonna cover kinda like an overview of the photography that I've done for different national park sites around the country. And there will also be some other videos like this one you are watching now. You see I'm, um, Morristown's first "Virtual Artist-in-Residence." "Virtual" because a lot of these things I would do in a public setting, but because of the pandemic we can't just do that right now. So, rather than not having the programming at all, we thought we would present it via video. So, uh, I do a workshop that is designed to help folks take better photos. Um, most people nowadays are using their smart phones, their cell phones, for photography. But there's some of you who might prefer a point-and-shoot camera or even a DSLR. So, whatever camera you choose to use, I'm gonna show you some very easy tips that'll automatically improve your photography I mean these things are actually pretty obvious, once I point it out to you. But it's something we often, um, overlook because we are caught up in the moment and we are not really thinking about the process. Uh, but what's great about these easy tips is that doesn't cost you anything, really. And once you do them, or costs you very little, in some cases, but once you do them you'll realize that it's not about the camera. It's really all about seeing, it's about being prepared, it's about, um, approaching photography in a way where you get results that are unique to you. That are artistic and creative and a little bit different from what everybody else is doing. So, for today, there will be a couple more videos, but for today I'm gonna cover five easy tips. And without further ado, let's get started. Tip number one. It seems obvious, but clean your lens! Think about it. Think about it. How many times you touch you phone all day long. And the places it ends up. It could be on top of a table at lunch, maybe you go to the bathroom with it, uh, a lot of stuff ends up on the lenses, more than you realize, much more than with a regular camera. So before you take a photograph, just clean the lens. Now it's really a matter of using a microfiber cloth, like this one. And remember depending on the kind of phone you have, you might have more than one lens. So in this case, on my particular phone, I have one on the back, so I just want to clean that real thorough and I also have one on the front. You can really see it. It's just a little dot, but happen to know it's right there. So you want to clean all those lenses. If you don't have a microfiber, you can also use, uh, one of those lens wipes, one of those that are wet--those are fine. They won't scratch the lens and, you know, in a pinch you can also just use your shirt. I've done that too, just, just be careful, don't, you know, rub too hard. but it's really important to clean your lens because you automatically will get a brighter image, believe it or not. It'll be, uh, sharper. It won't be as hazy. When you have, uh, dirt and finger prints on the lens. Also you'll find that your colors are more saturated. And your contrast is increased. So, you just get a better looking picture, just by, just by cleaning the lens. No need to engage in photoshop or apply an app. That simple task alone will improve your photography. Alright, tip number two is to zoom with your feet. Not with your lens. And not by pinching outward like I see people commonly do. But to just get closer to the subject. Now obviously there are times when you can't get close, I completely understand that. There may be a fence in the way or a crowd or what have you. So you have to zoom in by pinching outward, right? But, for instance here, I'm looking at this soldiers' hut, uh, this is a replica. But this is the type of structure that George Washington's troops actually lived in during the encampment during the Revolutionary War. So, here I am in Morristown, I see that, I like it, I want to take a picture so that I can show it to my friends. And, if I wanna get, uh, a better shot of it so it's not so far away. Instead of pinching outward, I'm just gonna zoom closer to it. Now what's the difference? The difference is, first of all, it's obvious to just to do that, but you get a better quality image. And I'll tell you why. When you, uh, zoom outward, right? You are magnifying the image, but you're also magnifying whatever slight movement you make with your hands and your arms. And that's movement because it's getting magnified will introduced blur into the image. So, especially, if you're not using a tripod, if you're just holding it. So, if you wanna get a sharp image, zoom with you feet. So, in case you don't really know, what I'm talking about, I'm gonna demonstrate zooming with my feet. I'm gonna start zooming. Like that! Ahh, that looks really good. Right there, see? I don't have to pinch outward. I just took the picture. So, the next tip is to stabilize yourself. Now, I mention in the previous segment that, um, to avoid pinching outward, if you can, because by pinching outward you're magnifying the movement of your, of your hands and your arms and that can introduce blur. But if you don't stabilize yourself properly, that can also still introduce some blur even though your camera does have auto filters. So the way to do it is, uh, for starters, you want to separate your feet. So, you wanna do that. That stabilizes you more automatically. Next thing you want to do is you wanna tuck your elbows into your sides and you wanna get a nice grip on your phone with two hands. That keeps it nice and steady. Basically, you're turning your body into a tripod. So when you do that the thing to remember is that when you finally come time to press the shutter, be gentle. Don't, don't press it too hard. Just press it very lightly because even the contact with the screen of your phone can introduce enough, uh, enough shade or enough movement to introduce some blur. You may not see the blur, uh, immediately, but if you blow the picture up or if you, uh, print a large size of it then you might start seeing some blurring in the edges. To get a sharper picture, stabilize yourself, and it will look much better. The next tip is to get a tripod and earbuds. I'll explain that in a moment. Uh, tripod, you certainly get a tall one. The one that goes down to the ground. You, you might need that if you are using a DSLR or a heavy, you know, a heavier camera. If you are using a light camera, like a point-and-shoot and certainly a smart phone, you can just get a tripod like this, uh, these are relatively inexpensive. Some of them like this particular one has flexible legs. So what's good about these is in addition to, you know, obviously placing it on a flat surface like a table or a tree trunk or a fence. You can actually wrap these legs around, say a tree trunk or tree branches. Uh, you can get some very interesting angles that you might not be able to get otherwise. But what's really great about a tripod is when you have your camera on it, you're not touching your camera anymore, so it's perfectly stable. Aside from whatever, you know, gentle wind that might be coming by. But you could still introduce some blur when you tap the screen in order to take the picture. So, what you can do instead, and a lot folks don't know this, uh, smart phone probably came with earbuds. uh, as has this one and if you plug that in, I find that most, if not all phones, you can actually us this as a remote shutter by simply pressing the volume button. So, what's great about that is there's absolutely no contact with your phone. Your phone is on the tripod, so it's just sitting there without you touching it. and then when you take the picture, you're doing it remotely with the wire, you just gotta make sure you don't tug at it and move the phone that way. but that's probably the best way to get a tact, sharp, photo. even with a smart phone. The last tip. Tip number five is to keep your eye on the lens. Despite all the photos that people take, the beauty of the landscape, and the structures here at Morristown or in other places. The most popular picture out there, is you probably know, is the selfie. Everybody loves taking selfies. Uh, but often times, you'll see selfies where people are kinda looking weird and kinda looking off to the side, you know, they're kinda looking like that and it looks like a weird mug shot. We don't want pictures like that, you know, we want a picture where, unless you're wearing sunglasses, like me, you're eye are with the viewer. So what you have to remember is that depending on your phone, there might be different lenses. um, in my case, I have one in the back, but I also have one in the front. and the one in the front is the selfie lens. So you wanna identify on your phone which is the selfie lens. Now, uh, my selfie lens is so small, I don't even see it. It, it's just part of the glass. What I sometimes will do is I'll actually put a little piece of tape there. This way when I am ready to take a selfie, I know exactly where to look. So when you're ready to take your picture, what you want to do is you want to, uh, not look at yourself in the screen. because that's how you end up with that weird look where your eyes are a scant. What you wanna do is look at the screen just to compose your picture, you wanna make sure, you know, you're in the right place within the frame. that you're not cutting your head off uh, if there is something in the background that you want, you wanna make sure that it's placed in the right way. So you want to look at the screen as a reference, but once you have your picture composed, then you want to switch your eyes to wherever that selfie lens is. And then take the picture. And then you will have a photo where you're making direct eye contact with your viewer. That is, uh, Shakespeare I believe said the "eyes are the windows of the soul" So you wanna look at your viewer. So there you have it. Five easy tips that will help improve your cell phone photography. You can also apply some of these tips to your, uh, point-and-shoot and your DSLR. I told you they were easy, right? It's real simple, just, clean your lens, alright then you wanna zoom with your feet. You wanna stabilize yourself. You wanna get a tripod which is very handy and also the earbuds, don't forget that. And finally, when taking a selfie, keep your eye on the lens. Um, until then, until we do the next one, there's one more video coming up with some other, um other tips I want to share with you. Until then, try coming to the park and check it out, uh do check out the exhibit that I mentioned earlier. There's another video that I'll be broadcasting soon that gives you an overview of my work with, um, different parks. Uh, but until then I'm Xiomáro. and on behalf of myself and also Morristown National Historical Park, we invite you to check out the park's website for more information. and to get more information about me and my relationship with the other parks and my other work, uh just go to my website which is and that's "X" not and "S" it's an X I O M A R O dot com.


Artist in Residence at Morristown NHP, Xiomáro, describes five tips for doing photography with your cellular or smart phone.