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Gary Detonnancourt

Harrisville, RI 02830
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More Than A Snapshot provides online photography education.

Booth Bay Harbor 2013-5410-color enhanced.jpg


This is the blog for More Than A Snapshot's Online Photography Classes.  In these blog posts I will give photography tips, tutorials, and show images.

Filtering by Tag: tips

How to Get Wedding Photos You'll Love Forever: Tips Before, During and After the Big Day

Gary Detonnancourt

Memories are forever. In the case of getting married, your photos will be your lifetime treasure. These photos will remind you of the love you share not only with your significant other but also with the people closest to both of you.



Reminiscing about your Big Day will be all the sweeter when you look your glowing best. Who wouldn’t want to shine and look like a billion dollars on their wedding photos? That is why it is essential to prepare and make sure that you hire the top wedding photographer — the best that you can find.


Here are some tips that will help ensure that you will have photos to cherish all throughout your wedding journey:

Before “I Do”

1. Do your homework.

If possible, do your research right after you get engaged. It doesn’t matter if it’s a long engagement or a whirlwind romance as long as you get a move on the wedding preparations as soon as you can.


Aside from the obvious excitement of getting tied to your sweetheart, preparing for your wedding early will ensure that you will have all your bases covered. Careful not to turn into a Bridezilla — the wedding preps will allow you to avoid cramming and making hasty decisions.


Set the date, decide on a theme or look for your wedding, and envision how you want it all to be. Set ground rules for yourself and for your partner (e.g. “we should try not argue about everything”) as it would be easy to get caught up in all the preparations.


Ask friends and family who already tied the knot. Get their recommendations and suggestions in terms of the venue, the suppliers, and other “insider tips.” Window shop for all the possible people who can provide top-notch services for your wedding. This includes your caterers, your make-up artist, and your wedding photographer.

2. Set a budget

When you have looked around and checked the whos, whats, and wheres of your wedding, then it is time to set a budget.


For your wedding photography, you need to check if the photographer you have in mind will fit your financial considerations. Because of the demand for photographers, their professional fees can range from the most affordable to exorbitant. They say that you get what you pay for, but also keep in mind that cheap does not also mean ugly.


The best way to go is to look through their portfolio and find out if their style meets yours. Then set a meeting for each photographer you think you can work well with and try to check how you can both work within a certain parameter. Some photographers are offended when you ask for discounts, but some masters would even work for free if you ask nicely.


It’s not a matter of cutting down on costs, though. It is more of getting value for your money while achieving the vision of having your dream wedding preserved through photos.

3. Sign a contract

When you’ve finally chosen the master behind the shutter, then it’s time to sign the dotted lines. Make sure both parties are clear on the details – time, date, venue, specific shooter for the day, how many photographers, and other details.


You can also indicate if there are other services included such as:

·        Videography

·        On-site presentations

·        Pre-nuptial and/or post-nuptial photo sessions

·        Wedding album production


Go through the contract together so you can be sure that everything is covered and agreed upon. It is always wise to read the fine print and make sure that everything is clear.



4. Schedule a pre-wedding shoot

Pre-nuptial photo sessions take the wedding up another notch. Most couples nowadays spring for a pictorial session before the wedding. This is either because they want to use the photos for their save-the-dates or invitations, or simply because they want to have a more relaxed and carefree demeanor in their photos.


Having your prenuptial photo session (or prenups) is also a good way to establish rapport with your photographer. Some grooms, particularly, tend to be camera shy and this preliminary shoot will help ease him gently into the more click-heavy moments during the actual day.


Some couples tend to take the prenups to a whole different level – even going as far (literally) as doing shoots abroad or having fantastic themes. Couples can indulge in pre-wedding photos as far as their imagination (and resources) can take them, from elaborate, movie-inspired themes to “trash-the-dress” fashion editorials.


Other couples also grab this chance to take decent, more formal versions of their on-the-day photos, as the wedding day itself can be a harried experience. They can opt for outdoor or indoor portrait photography while already wearing their actual wedding clothes. This way, their photos are more relaxed and well put together.

5. Prepare a shot list

For the wedding, sit down with your partner and discuss which moments you would want to be highlighted. There may be crucial moments that you really want to be included, such as a tribute to the parents or, perhaps, a special number from the entourage. You can also discuss specific shots, in confidence, with your wedding planner and photographer, especially if you have a surprise planned either for your spouse or for the guests.


You do not have to list down every single shot as you also need to allow the photographer creative leeway. Candid shots can add a very heartwarming touch to any wedding album, so make room for those.


Another way is to break down the shot list to different “segments” of the day.


For example, you can ask your photographer to take shots of:

1.     On-the-day wedding preparations: This may include details of the wedding like the invitations, ring shots, the clothes, etc. This can also include the bride being made-up, the groom dressing up, the entourage’s “wacky” prep photos, family portraits, and the like.

2.     Ceremony photos: These are the photos taken during the ceremonies which may include the walk down the aisle, the exchange of vows, the “first kiss,” and other such moments.

3.   Reception snapshots: These will include anything and everything about the wedding reception – the usual cake-cutting, toasts, dances, and the party that ensues after. Group photos with friends and family can also be taken here.

4.   Others: Some couples also want to have “in-between” photos taken. These are editorial-ish shots that are taken in between the ceremony and the reception. Considered to be the “first photos” as husband-and-wife, the in-between shots can be more intimate and may include their first married couple portrait.


Some couples change into a different ensemble for the reception, so this pictorial session can be a memento of the more “formal” first attire.

The Big Day

Relax and smile

Since you have prepared well for the wedding day – events all organized and managed, both of you all scrubbed and pampered, your pearly whites all ready to flash a megawatt smile, and both your faces glowing with love and exhilaration -- all you need to do on the day itself is to sit back, relax, and enjoy watching the movie of your life unfold.


If you allow yourself to be stressed, your photos will also reflect that. Designate certain responsibilities to trusted people like friends and family if you do not have a wedding coordinator. The key to having the perfect photos of your wedding day is to have a wonderful time experiencing the moment.


When you are having a good time savoring every second of your wedding day, it will naturally show. Trust your photographer to capture these moments.

Happily Ever After

Post-nuptial photos

Some couples also schedule a post-nuptial photo session (postnups) with their photographer.


This session could be another chance to take portraits of the couple that was not possible to be taken during the day (because of unforeseen circumstances like weather) or it could be a whole separate thing entirely.


Much like prenups, postnups can be as elaborate and imaginative as possible. Especially for destination weddings, postnups can be a more intimate photo session of the couple as a married pair. It can also already show them on their honeymoon or enjoying the after-wedding party with friends and family.


Getting married is a milestone in life that deserves special attention. The precious moments captured on camera can be a testament to love that you can revisit and reminisce afterward. Investing time, money, energy, and resources into creating picture-perfect moments on your wedding day can be a gift that you can give to your children and your children’s children.



Linda Pasfield is best known for her skill to capture emotion on film and expression in an art form. Linda has had 20 years of experience photographing weddings, portraiture and documentary. She is an award winning photographer and Linda's career has taken her worldwide, photographing for Olim Aid International, Worship Centre and Cross Rds, and numerous other organisations. Photography is Linda's passion and "capturing the true feelings on the day, blending creativity and lighting in the right way is a joy."


Tips for Adding Photos to Lightroom's Quick Collections

Gary Detonnancourt

Photography Challenge #1: Describe Yourself as a Photographer

Gary Detonnancourt

This is a free one year long series that will help you to make a personal photography project. I'm also offering a free Create Challenge Toolkit, which will contain all of the worksheets and resources that go along with this series.


Since this is my video, I should do the challenge too.  I have been doing photography for most of my life but I really began to study it around 2005, when digital was really coming in to its own. I am an opportunist with regard to my subjects, as I'm sure many people are. I tend to photograph subject that are easily available to me, however, I mostly shoot wildlife, portraits, and landscapes. I would say most of my quality work is of wildlife and beauty shots of models. I would say my style included images with vibrant colors and artificial light. However, these days I seem to be shooting more natural light and in Black and White so my style is ever changing. I frequently shoot with a 24-105 mm lens but my most frequent focal length is probably 600 mm since I like to shoot wildlife. I would say my photographic weakness is caring too much about technical things and not enough about creativity and capturing the decisive moment. I hope to be able to work on this throughout the year.

10 Tips for Photographing Holiday Lights

Gary Detonnancourt

10 Tips for Photographing Holiday Lights

by Gary Detonnancourt

Photographing holiday lights is great fun and is very useful for practicing night photography.  I think you will get the best results if you do everything manually.  Follow these steps to get started:

Nubble Light - Cape Neddick Lighthouse - Maine

1.  Flip the switch on your lens to manual focus.  Autofocus can work with lights, however, any time I do night photography I prefer to focus manually.  If you are using a tripod it would also help to turn off image stabilization (VR, VC, IS).

Historic Wickford Village - Rhode Island

2.  Change the camera's shooting mode to Manual.  Shoot RAW if possible because you will have much more control when editing.

3.  Go into the camera's menu and turn off Long Exposure Noise Reduction.  The feature does remove noise, but it doubles the exposure time.  Today's image editing software (Lightroom, Photoshop etc...) are able to remove the noise.  You may also want to turn down the brightness of your screen a bit (-2, -3), a bright screen can make you think the exposure is too bright.

4.  When shooting at night with a DSLR, you should cover the eyepiece, and use live view.  Canon camera's come with a black piece of rubber on the camera strap that can be used to cover the eyepiece.  Nikon's have a switch to close the eyepiece and mirrorless camera's don't need to cover to do this because they don't use a mirror.  Blocking the eyepiece prevents light from coming in and affecting the exposure.

5.  Use a tripod and a cable release.  If you don't have a cable release you can use the camera's timer.

5.  Set the ISO to the lowest native ISO for your camera (50, 100, 200), unless your subject is moving, then you may need to increase the ISO to stop the motion of the subject.

I love this shot but I messed up.  Shooting at the lowest ISO works well when you subject isn't moving, but you have to remember to bump up the ISO for moving subjects, or you'll get a blur like I got on this dog.

6.  I recommend setting your white balance manually (K), and take few test shots until you get an image with no color cast, for holiday lights this may be in the 2800-3500 range.  You could choose tungsten when photographing older style lights or daylight when shooting more modern LED lights.

7.  Choose an aperture based on how much depth of field you need for the shot.  When not much depth is needed, try between f/4 and f/8.

8.  Set the shutter speed for the correct exposure based on the ISO and aperture you have previously chosen.  Take a test shot and use the RGB histogram to make sure the image isn't overexposed.  Push the exposure as far to the right as you can without overexposing.  You can alway darken an overly bright image in your image editing software.

9.  Use high ISO preview to avoid wasting time on long test shots.  If you do your test shots at ISO 100, you may waste a lot of time waiting to see a shot that isn't exposed properly.  If you chose to shoot at ISO 100, try using a high ISO for your first test shot like 6400 (6 stop difference), this should make the exposure time pretty short so you can narrow the exposure down to the perfect shutter speed.  Once you have figured out the correct shutter speed, convert it to minutes.

  • If you chose ISO 50 then use ISO 3200 so that 1 second will equal one minute.
  • If you chose ISO 100 then use ISO 6400 so that 1 second will equal one minute.
  • If you chose ISO 200 then use ISO 12800 so that 1 second will equal one minute.

10.  Use live view to frame up the shot.  Use the zoom in button to zoom in on some detail so you can manually focus with much better accuracy.

6 Tips to Improve Your Landscape Images

Gary Detonnancourt

Guest blog post by Marion Faria

Guest Blogger Marion Faria

Guest Blogger Marion Faria

I am a passionate and quirky photographer concentrating primarily on landscape photography.  My images have been printed in NANPA Expressions magazine. The image of The Road to Fitzroy was the cover image for Lonely Planet's "Best in Travel" 2015 book.  I have won numerous Spider, black and white awards, also, images of the day at, Shutterbug Magazine and Bing. Finalist for image of the month at Popular Photography.  My stock images are represented by Getty Images.


1. The "rule of thirds", which almost every photographer has heard about, can work most of the time.  If you are struggling with composition, it would be wise to use this as a starting point until you are more confident. It is based upon the Golden Mean which was used by painters for many centuries as a guide to composition.

The image above demonstrates the use of the "rule of thirds" is beneficial to a composition to place a major subject on one of the crossed lines.  

2. The composition of landscapes can be improved by using certain graphic elements.  Some elements draw the eye into an image, others add strength and tension to an is important to recognize graphically what is in your composition.

The illustration above gives you an idea of the elements that can improve an image.

3. As a landscape photographer, I shoot almost entirely in Aperture Priority, switching to Manual as needed, which isn't very often, usually as night approaches.

4. When shooting landscapes, you want to use the lowest native ISO for your camera, mine is 100, some are 200.  Using a low ISO is important for helping to avoid excess noise in an image.  Using too much noise reduction can diminish the quality of an image.

5. Compose vertically as well as horizontally; it gives you another option and can improve a composition.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

6.  Of course the most important thing of all, in landscape photography!  Wait for the best light.  The light is what will elevate an image from ordinary to extraordinary. Notice the difference between images 4 and 5.  In image 4 the light is dramatic, as is the sky; in image 5, the light is good on the mountain peak but flat everywhere else.

Canadian Rockies, near Banff

Mount Rundle from Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park

New Software from Topaz: Texture Effects

Gary Detonnancourt

Topaz Texture Effects

Who says it takes time to create an awe-inspiring image? With the ability to quickly achieve a variety of textured, toned, and lighting effects, the NEW Topaz Texture Effects allows you to do in minutes what could take hours in other editing software. Get More Information Here:

Topaz Texture Effects will be on sale through November 20th. It will retail for $69.99, however, you can purchase it for only $49.99 ($20 off) until November 20th by using this coupon code: TEXTUREFX.  

Click here for more information and to purchase. 

6 Composition Tips for Bird Photography

Gary Detonnancourt

Composition Tips for Bird Photography

Click this link to get more photography tips.

Details really do matter.  I find that people that specialize in something tend to really focus on details and that's what often separates them from the rest of the crowd.  I'm a bass fishermen, and I've seen two people in the same boat using the same bait and one person is catching fish and the other isn't,  something as simple as changing the size of the bait, can mean the difference between catching a fish or going home hungry.  The same holds true for photography, in this case, Michael specializes in bird photography and has learned through experience which small details can really improve his images of birds. 

1.  The bird should be facing directly toward the viewer or at a profile view, not flying away from the viewer.

Black Crowned Night Heron - Image by Gary Detonnancourt

Black Crowned Night Heron - Image by Gary Detonnancourt

2.  Leave room for the birds movement in the image.

Osprey - Image by Gary Detonnancourt

3.  It's often helpful to see the birds feet.

Heron - Image by Gary Detonnancourt

4.  Leave room in your composition for the feet, even if they are under water.

Egret - Image by Gary Detonnancourt

Egret - Image by Gary Detonnancourt

5.  Show a bird with some personality.  A head tilt or other interesting guesture can really add life to an image.

Mallard - Image by Gary Detonnancourt

6.  Try to capture a catch light in the birds eyes.  This can be done with front light, side light, or a fill flash.

Image by Gary Detonnancourt

Post your images and comments below.

The Grand Landscape

Gary Detonnancourt

Guest Blog Post by Marion Faria

Landscape photographers are dreamers, artists and visionaries. I believe this. When the landscape painter, Joseph Mallord Turner, was on his deathbed, his last words were, "The sun is god"...he was correct.  For landscape photography, especially for the grand landscape, which happens to be my favorite style, the light is god. You must always be aware of the color of light, the time of day to shoot and your composition; however, for me it all comes down to image must feel right on many levels.

Ok, so you have decided to photograph the grand landscape... you feel it... you want to be one with the earth and its cycle of light and dark; but what equipment do you need?

Here are my recommendations:

  • a rugged yet light tripod without a center column
  • a ball head (I use Really Right Stuff)
  • a full frame camera (you want to capture the whole image) with L bracket: to easily shoot vertically or horizontally
  • a wide angle lens (I use the Canon 17-40 mm)
  • a cable release to prevent camera shake
  • filters and a filter holder:  2 and 3 stop graduated neutral density
  • 3 stop solid neutral density
  • circular polarizer        

If you have never used any of these filters, you will have to read and practice until you are proficient: it is critical to control the light and dynamic range when shooting landscapes, you cannot rely on Photoshop to fix things, remember, the longer the light hits the sensor, the better will be the color and saturation.

What settings to use in camera?

I almost always shoot in Aperture Priority, the best landscape photographers in the world shoot in Aperture priority so don't go screwing around with Manual.  The only time I use manual is when the sun is down and I am making long exposures, greater than 30 seconds.

I almost always use an f-stop of 20 or 22: it will give you great depth of field, people will tell you about diffraction at those apertures, and it can happen, but you have to test your lens..if it happens, then use 16 or 18, my  17-40 mm F/4 is excellent at f/22, it is my favorite aperture.

ISO needs to be 100 or 200, whatever is the native lowest ISO for your camera, you definitely don't want noise.

Let your camera set the shutter speed based upon your f-stop and ISO.

You have all the stuff, you feel adept with the filters; but when do you shoot? 

The Golden hour:  

  • an hour before sunrise and an hour after
  • an hour before sunset and an hour after or longer

These are the times of day when the sun is low and the blue wavelengths do not penetrate the sky, thus, the sky becomes magic with amazing color.

Landscape photography is all about celebrating the earth.  I don't often photograph people or animals, but I love this planet and its moods, if you do too, try photographing the majesty of Earth.

About Marion Faria

I am a quirky and passionate landscape photographer, concentrating primarily but not exclusively, on landscape photography.  I have been published in NANPA "Expressions" magazine, won many photography awards, images have been Bing and Shutterfly Images of the day, Earthshot photo of the day, finalist in Outdoor and Popular Photography magazine competitions, book cover for Lonely Planet; my stock work is represented by Getty Images, my photography is the best part of who I am and ever will be...