Maureen G Nowak Photography: Blog en-us (C) MAUREEN G NOWAK PHOTOGRAPHY 2024 [email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:36:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:36:00 GMT Maureen G Nowak Photography: Blog 120 120 Featured Photos: Tips for Extended Family Photography Summer is a popular time for extended family reunions and gatherings to celebrate birthdays, weddings and anniversaries--all which offer a prime opportunity to capture everyone together in one image.  I frequently photograph extended families and large groups of people, but it's a completely different challenge to do it for your own family! Gathered to celebrate Gramma's 90th birthday, I was tasked to replace the 14-year-old Nowak Family portrait that hung on Gramma's wall.  But, there were parameters:  we couldn't leave the party location, our shoot couldn't exceed four minutes (lest the steaks on the grill would burn), and everyone would wear the clothing that they arrived in.  Thanks to an equal mix of skill and luck, the resulting prints look fabulous.  Following are my tips for success.

Nowaks2019-2Nowaks2019-2 The Nowak Family, 22 June 2019


Tip #1:  Plan Ahead

  • Select a location based on lighting, backdrop, and space.  I calculated that the sun would drop behind the treeline at a certain time, providing even lighting on everyone.  Patchy sun on subjects' faces, squinting, and lens flares never are flattering in group photos.  Likewise, a distracting setting or a crowded space won't look good.
  • Calculate out the space needed to comfortably sit everyone without blocking anyone.  Plan for the guest of honor or most senior family members to be in the center.  In this case, I chose to seat everyone in groups by sub-families.  
  • Bring in furniture or props to use to layer people on.  Don't be afraid to use items of different heights, and to utilize chair arms, stone walls or stairs.
  • Remove distracting items like banners from the background, and add fillers such as plants to add interest in bare spots.  


Tip #2:  Prepare the Gear

  • Set up the camera on a sturdy tripod.  I set the tripod and camera on a deck about five steps above the patio to offer a flattering portrait angle.  Use the highest resolution possible to ensure crisp faces if you plan to enlarge or crop the image.  I recommend a prime 35mm lens to provide a wide enough angle to fit everyone without being too far away with a closer lens or distorted on the sides with a wider angle lens.  I didn't have a wireless remote trigger with me, so used a wired version that allowed me to press the shutter from several feet in front of the camera.
  • Run test shots to ensure proper composition, exposure and color balance.  I tweaked my original plan by adding one Profoto A1X light with a round diffuser to soften any shadows on faces from the natural light angle.
  • Set the camera to shoot 20 consecutive images at intervals of two seconds.  Given that the first two shots will be lost to the photographer dashing into the arrangement, that results in 18 final photos.


Set up and test shots while waiting for the sun to drop behind the treeline


Tip #3:  Prepare the People

  • When the light is right and everyone is present, work quickly to sit everyone as planned.  Work with individual families, giving each person a specific location and showing them how to sit.  Details such as where to put their hands, how to lean, the best way to cross place their feet make them feel more comfortable.  For example, everyone should sit near the front edge of deep-seated furniture, and pillows can be placed behind anyone who needs extra support.
  • Start assembling the photo with the more senior family members who will have the most patience, leaving small children until last.  Work quickly since even the most patient adults tend to run out of steam quickly in photo sessions.
  • Tell everyone what to expect:  there will be a series of twenty photos over forty seconds, then they can relax for a moment.  Explain that you plan to take three sets of photos, so if everyone cooperates, all images will be complete in three minutes.  Most everyone can sit still for three minutes!  Acknowledge that it's awkward to stare at a camera and smile in silence, but explain that talking during the photos will make their faces appear contorted.  


Tip #4:  Run Fast!

  • Give the group a count of three to get their their attention, hit the shutter button, and dash fast to your spot in the image.  Relax and Smile!
  • Tell everyone to remain in place, and survey the group quickly and make any minor adjustments to positioning.  If they are like our family, you will need to remind them not to talk, since the silence does feel awkward.  
  • Repeat the process two more times.

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Tip #5:  Edit Carefully

  • With 54 final images to choose from, don't be surprised that there isn't a single shot with 25 people all looking the same way with their eyes open.
  • Remove any distractions in the foreground and background that couldn't be adjusted earlier.  Remove and logos or stains from clothing.  Depending on the size that the image will be printed as, gentle cosmetic editing will make everyone feel their best when they see the final product.
  • Never, ever reveal whose heads needed to be swapped from similar images to create a final composite photo with everyone looking their best.  



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Preview: An Album Cover for Arbor Day Check out my photography on Kristy Chmura's latest musical cover, along with a few other photos from our session.  As so many people know, Kristy is a talented harpist, singer and songwriter whom I adore working with.  Creating images to complement her music and style is always artistic and rewarding.  You can find Kristy's latest, "The Tree Song," released today in honor of Arbor Day on iTunes and CDbaby.  





Gear for these Photos:  Canon 1DX markii, Canon 200mm f/2.0 lens, Gitzo monopod and RRS ballhead, Profoto Silver/White reflector and diffusers.

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Natural Winter Light Makes Portraits Shine Most people don't imagine Winter as an ideal season for portraits, but braving the cold temps will reward you with with a clean, crisp natural light that produces stunning photographs.  The natural light in Spring and Summer can cast a green tone onto photographs, while fall illuminates images with its golden glow.  With careful location selection and reflectors/diffusers as modifiers, the light of winter produces the purest colors of the year.  Even the background devoid of foliage blurs into a stunning mix of tans, taupes and greys that flatter all skin tones and provide a lovely neutral backdrop.  The photographs below were shot in late January indoors using only available window light, and outdoors in late afternoon sun.  

Canon 1DXmarkii and 5Dmarkiv camera bodies, Canon 85 f/1.4L, Canon 135 f/2.0L, Canon 200 f/2.0L, Gitzo Monopod with RRS ball-head, Profoto reflector and diffuser, Westcott Eyelight with white reflecting screen and Manfrotto stand. 


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) NJ photographer 1DXmarkii Canon chester Maureen Nowak morris county photographer photography portrait photography portraits winter light winter portraits Mon, 04 Feb 2019 15:07:46 GMT
Featured Photos: Revolutionize a Small Business' Image One of my photographic specialties is working with small businesses to brand their image through photography.  What potential clients see on a website, social media, or in marketing materials fuels their perception of that business.  Studies show that people interpret and form beliefs based on photographs almost instantly, and that these photos have a greater impact on potential clients than anything written.  My work with small businesses is entirely collaborative -- a creative process that involves discussions before, during, and after the photoshoot to corroborate the owner's business plans and goals.  I use the best equipment and complex photographic techniques to create a comprehensive set of photos that define the business' niche at a glance.  These top quality images wow the viewer and echo the excellent reputation of the business.

The photographs below of the XBarre Studio in Gladstone, New Jersey, are a great example of my work with a small business to create a brand via photographs.  Capitalizing on the great space and natural light, I included outdoor photos of the restored barn and signs, and indoor images of the barre studio space.  I created digital photographs that showcased the studio's natural and welcoming feeling, while simultaneously accentuating the skilled and professional capabilities of the instructors.  The results were dynamic and portrayed the outstanding exercise studio exactly how the owner hoped.       


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Featured Photos: Senior Portraits with Personality Gentle late summer setting sunlight, top quality Canon cameras and lenses, a stately setting, and a naturally beautiful young lady combine to create amazingly stunning senior portraits.  This post, part of my weeklong series, features images that I took of the lovely Kendall during her senior portrait session.  Photographs during the final year of high school mark a milestone and can capture all the beauty, personality and promise of youth.  I loved creating these photos--shaping the setting sunlight with reflectors and diffusers for the most flattering light, shooting at a depth of field only millimeters deep to make my subject pop, and drawing out Kendall's personality to create a timeless photo that she loves.  I shot the majority in a vertical orientation to meet the yearbook requirement, but added some in my favorite horizontal composition (including a few with her too-cute pup!)  I am super proud of these photos and am confident that they will be treasured for decades to come.    



[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) canon high school photography maureen g. nowak photography maureen nowak morris county photographer photography senior portraits teenage portraits Sun, 23 Sep 2018 10:15:00 GMT
Featured Photos: An Interior Design Photoshoot Fourth in my weeklong series examining a handful of recent photography assignments, today I am featuring interior design images.  I love interior design projects and am a junkie for the unique furniture, fabrics, colors and accessories that designers so skillfully combine to create a unique and welcoming space.  For me, a comprehensive set of design photos includes broad panoramic images to document the space, vignettes to showcase an area of a room, and macro images to spotlight an item close-up.  All with special attention to flattering light, creative composition and accurate color portrayal.  The combination provides designers with professional quality photographs to show potential clients in a portfolio, on a website, and in a variety of marketing materials.  This shoot for A.T. Interiors captures the space in a stunning beachside home on the Jersey shore.  













[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) beach house photos canon design photography interior design photography maureen g. nowak photography photography Sat, 22 Sep 2018 09:30:00 GMT
Featured Photos: A Lovely Wedding in Gladstone As part of my weeklong series on great photography assignments this season, today I am featuring photos from Annette and Stan's recent wedding ceremony.  Looking beautiful and dapper, this wonderful couple shined in this historic stone church in picturesque Gladstone, NJ.  It is a privilege when I am able to photograph special moments with a bride and groom--the excitement and anticipation of the ceremony, and the sheer joy of celebrating together with family and close friends afterward.  In this case, our time for photography was brief, but I was able to capture some wonderful images of the bridal party before the ceremony that Annette and Stan will treasure.  No artificial light was allowed in the stately but dark stone church, so these great photos taken during the ceremony are testament to the incredible Dynamic Range of Canon's amazing flagship 1DXmarkii camera and top quality L-lenses with incredibly large apertures to let in light.  

Cheers to the newlyweds!


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) canon gladstone maureen g. nowak photography maureen nowak morris county photographer nj photography photography wedding photography Fri, 21 Sep 2018 09:15:00 GMT
Featured Photos: A Unique Set of Business Portraits Business portraits--often nicknamed "headshots" for short--don't have to be stuffy photos taken against a dull studio backdrop.  In this assignment for the Chester Historic Business Association, I was tasked with creating innovative portraits of the owners of small businesses located in downtown Chester, New Jersey, to be used in marketing brochures and in featured profiles on the HCBA website.  With over 65 businesses and limited time, we escaped briefly outside each business dwelling to make the most of available natural light.  I turned the background street scene  into a creamy blur by shooting "wide open" with an aperture between f/1.2 and f/2.0, depending on the lens.  Adding a touch of fill light from Profoto reflectors and the portable new A1 system at High Speed Sync settings, I created crisp, colorful headshots that pop.  

Following are a selection of images from our 3-day photoshoot that showcase the faces behind these great businesses that really are "The Heart of Chester."



Larry Guizio, A World of Birds



Umut Bitlisli, All Computers Go!


Ayush Rai, Melange



Steve Jones, Black River Candy Shop



Marisa DeAngelus, Taylor's Ice Cream



Debbie Carcuffe, A Portal of Healing



Melinda Scotti, Bountiful Gardens



Mike Canzano, J. Emanuel Chocolatier



MaryEllen Alcock, Chester Floral Designs



Stephen Barbieri, Antiques By Chester Crafts



Devon Carroll, Aslan Gathered Goods



Danielle Hester, Comfortably Chic



Shabo Hadzovic, New York Pizza


BoehsCabinet Shop_JohnBoehsBoehsCabinet Shop_JohnBoehs

John Boehs, Boehs Cabinet Shop




Joe Lubrano, Publick House



Karen Wolfe, Sub Pub



Heather Koby, Fatrabbit Creative



Steve Tylee, NitroFlex Gym



Glen Boralsky, Chester Meat Market



Laurie Anderson, J. Jill Clothing



Marco Rojas, Fresco Mexican



Kurt Alstede, Alstede Farms



Jane Shatz, The Hive



Sean Henry, Redwoods Restaurant


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) NJ business photography business portraits Canon Chester Chester NJ photographer headshots Maureen G. Nowak Maureen Nowak morris county photographer photography Thu, 20 Sep 2018 08:30:00 GMT
Featured Photos: Theater Portrait "Headshots" I have been so busy photographing, that there has been little time for writing blog entries lately.  Over the coming days, I will feature some of my recent assignments to showcase the various types of projects I have been working on and to share the results of a typical session.  The theater portrait "headshot" session below was a recent favorite.  Not only is Leilany talented on stage, incredibly beautiful, and an absolutely lovely young lady, she also has a brilliant rapport with my camera.  I had a blast working with her!  We aimed to use only a natural environment and setting sunlight (sculpted with reflectors and diffusers) to create images that captured her spirit and an air of mystery.  The result are photographs that are both edgy and natural--a super fun dichotomy.  



All photos taken with a Canon 1DXmarkii, Canon 200mm f/2.0 set at f/2.0, Gitzo carbon fiber monopod, RRS ball head and lens foot bracket, Profoto white and silver reflectors, and Profoto diffuser.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) canon drama headshots headshots maureen g. nowak photography photography theater headshots theater portraits Wed, 19 Sep 2018 15:32:27 GMT
Preview: Spotlight on Talented Actors and Actresses I have such fun each year photographing the talented actresses and actors of Delbarton's Abbey Players, and this year their energy was especially contagious. We worked together to craft headshots that reflected the upcoming "Into the Woods" performance.  The Brothers Grimm inspired story called for headshots that reflected the dark comedy and the enchanted nature of musical.  I used multiple Profoto reflectors and diffusers to manipulate the strong mid-day light streaming through a wall of windows in the atrium to create the most flattering natural lighting.  Using Canon's 1DX mark ii paired with the legendary 200mm f/2.0L lens, I was able to achieve the crispest focus with the most beautiful bokeh natural backdrop.  Tether Tool's Case Air enabled the cast to wirelessly view their proofs on an iPad Pro, allowing them to tweak their expressions and choose their favorite shots.  

Check out a slideshow of the 20-member cast set to "Into the Woods" theme music, and a selection of shots below.  

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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) abbey players chester nj photographer delbarton drama headshots into the woods maureen g. nowak morris county photographer natural light headshots natural light photography theater headshots Tue, 23 Jan 2018 19:10:26 GMT
Tips for Capturing Dynamic Concert Photographs I had the privilege of photographing the oh-so-talented musician Kristy Chmura during a concert in honor of the release of her latest album (which, I am proud to add, sports my photos on its cover).  But, photographing any concert in near darkness at the mercy of colored lights and limited mobility means that employing the right equipment and strategies is key to capturing great photos.  

  1. Accept the conditions at the venue.  It's a given that the lighting for photography will be dismal, that the best vantage point for shooting will be inaccessible, that there will be obstacles between the photographer and musician, and that additional strobe lights of any kind are taboo.  Set your mindset to accept the conditions and make the best of them.
  2. Select the best equipment for the setting.  A camera that excels at an extremely high ISO and has an excellent dynamic range is critical to capturing the best shots.  In the photos below, my ISO ranged from 2500 to 3200. Canon's 1DX mark ii excels in dim lighting, producing crisp portrait shots at crazy-high ISO settings.  It is equally important to choose top-quality L-lenses with the widest available apertures.  Below, I used Canon's new 85mm f/1.4 IS L lens and the 35mm f/1.4L lens.  In all shots, I shot wide open at f/1.4.
  3. Choose your point of focus wisely.  With a plane of focus just millimeters thin, the focus point virtually always should be the subject's eye that is closest to the camera.   Understand that this means that props or other musicians will not be in crisp focus. I embraced this trait and love that Kristy's husband--playing the guitar in the background--is blurred out through the harp strings. 
  4. Use support.  Tripods are key to camera stability but usually are too cumbersome in a crowded concert setting.  A monopod can provide support and stability during a long concert.  I swear by Gitzo carbon fiber sticks and Really Right Stuff ballheads.  An L-shaped arca-swiss bracket on each of my cameras allows me to switch quickly between horizontal and vertical orientations.
  5. Shoot copiously.  Singers and public speakers naturally contort their face while doing their jobs.  Capturing flattering action photos where the subject's mouth, eyes, face and hands are in optimum positions means shooting and sorting through many images.  Shoot far more images than you think you will need, often in rapid fire, to catch the exact expression desired.  Don't be alarmed if it takes hundreds of photos to acquire a handful of perfect finalists.
  6. Shoot monochrome as a last resort.  The multi-colored spotlights created dramatic imagery here, but this isn't always the case under unflattering fluorescent lights.  Black and white imagery can alleviate harsh or unflattering color casts, and capitalize on the high contrast of whites and blacks in the scene.  





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Check out Kristy's latest album, "Stained, Glass Heart" on iTunes, CDbaby, Amazon or Spotify!  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) concert photography kristy chmura performance photography photographing a concert photographing musicians photography photography in darkness stained glass heart Mon, 22 Jan 2018 23:41:36 GMT
Award Winner: The Triangle of Broken Glass I am delighted to share that my first competition entry was a winner with New Jersey's 70 South Gallery in Morristown.  I responded on a whim to an invitation to shoot an image between September 1st and 8th with the theme "triangle."  Using the incredibly high resolution (50.6 MP) Canon 5DS R and testing the phenomenon Zeiss Otus f/1.4 lens wide open, I photographed this broken wine glass on a white marble slab, shooting into the light for this rimmed halo effect.  Zeiss Otus lenses are renowned for their incredible crispness, micro contrast and saturated color.  A strictly manual focus lens, it takes great patience to capture accurate focus when the depth of field is just millimeters deep.  In this image, only the point of break on the glass is in crisp focus.  Careful examination will reveal triangular shapes repeated in the image.     


Produced on glossy metal, check out my Broken Glass image on the wall of 70 South Gallery during the month of October.  


Photo Details:  Canon's 5DS R body, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO Planar for Canon mount, ISO 500, f/1.4, 1/160 second, natural late afternoon light only.


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 70 south gallery 85 f/1.4 lens broken glass canon 5ds r morris county photographer morristown photography zeiss otus zeiss otus 85 Fri, 06 Oct 2017 12:23:31 GMT
Equipment Review: Putting Canon's 1DX mark ii to the Test Canon's flagship 1DX mark ii has the most advanced autofocus and tracking system of any camera body.  It is hailed by olympic and professional sports photographers everywhere for it's ability to capture remarkable action shots.  I put the camera to an extreme test during a recent photoshoot of a rowing club on the go.  This shoot was a particular challenge because not only were these oarsmen and women moving quickly, but I was being jostled around shooting from a very bumpy boat.  I also was photographing wide open (at the widest aperture) to create a shallow depth of field, offering no forgiveness if the focus point wasn't spot on.  Tasked with capturing individual rowers in motion, I shot from the lowest angle possible to create a unique up-close-and-personal perspective.  The 1DX mark ii completely wowed me with a phenomenal 16-shots a second and a 63-point al servo focus system as quick as my eye.   


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 1dx mark ii action photography canon 1dx mark ii chester nj photographer crew photography crew photos nj photographer rowing photography rowing photos sports photography Sat, 23 Sep 2017 19:17:32 GMT
Equipment Review: Get a Grip on your Gear I have long been on a search for the perfect camera strap to support hefty professional cameras.  While the Canon straps that arrive in the camera box are strong and usable, they are also cumbersome and conspicuous.  While many pros shoot sans-strap, I like the slight support and assurance that a strap provides.  After extensive testing, the ARTISAN&ARTIST Silk Cord and the Spider Pro Hand Strap are my two top choices for a practical, comfortable and attractive camera strap for shooting.  



The Japanese company ARTISAN&ARTIST was founded in 1991 by a photographer and artist eager to create high quality accessories for Leica cameras.  Over the decades, the company has expanded to produce bags and straps for all camera systems.  The straps continue to be most popular for Leica and mirrorless cameras, which are lighter in weight than professional systems.  But, a new 10mm wide tape-style attachment (as compared to the 6mm tape attachments and the ring attachments) that debuted this spring provides more than enough strength to support large camera bodies and lenses.  The strap's materials are impressive:  100 percent silk cording, strong nylon tape attachments, and Italian leather connectors with extensive stitching.  (Check out this fascinating short video on the silk strap production!)  The result is absolutely beautiful, but also cool, smooth, flexible and totally versatile.  This is the unique strap that professional and advanced-amateur photographers have been waiting for!


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I enjoy using the A&A silk cord wrapped around my wrist three times.  It feels smooth and moves with me.  It doesn't block any controls or access ports, and allows me to quickly switch between the horizontal and vertical grip on the 1DXmark2.  I attached it to the two right-side hooks, but the cord could also be attached to the two top metal hooks.  When my camera is mounted on a tripod, I loop the silk cord into a loose knot and it easily stays out of the way.   I can't be certain that the wrist-wrap would catch the camera if I dropped it, but I believe it would slow the drop enough for me to catch the camera.  It also deters theft if I were shooting in a city environment.  Although the slim, unpadded cord isn't comfortable for carrying 10+ pounds of gear on the neck, it has proven invaluable to loop over my shoulder or neck for a few moments when I need an extra hand -- absolutely beating the alternative of placing the camera on the ground or on an unstable surface.  

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Spider Pro Hand Strap

I have been using the Spider Pro hand strap on my 1DXmark2, 5DSR and 5Dmark3 since I became hooked on their wonderful holster system many years ago (watch for a future review on this blog!)  It fits my slim hand perfectly, but easily adjusts larger.  The underside is padded and lined with velvet, while the outside is available in a variety of leather colors.  An additional leather strap to snap around the wrist in included with the strap, but is optional for use.  My favorite aspect of the hand strap is that it feels incredibly comfortable and secure.  It molds to my hand and holds it firmly to the camera body.  While my hand could slip out during a serious drop, it feels secure and gives me confidence when I am moving quickly on a photoshoot.    

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It's impossible to claim that either the A&A silk cord or the Spider hand strap is superior because they each have great strengths.  I swap them regularly depending on the type of assignment and location of a shoot.  Here's the bottom line:

A&A silk cord advantages:

  • streamlined and stylish!
  • top quality materials
  • sleek and pliable;  comfortable and adaptable for many shooting situations
  • doesn't block any ports or camera controls
  • allows use of horizontal or vertical shutter controls
  • allows for cross-body carrying for short amounts of time
  • can be easily used on a tripod
  • the cord feels cool to the touch


A&A silk cord disadvantages:

  • provides little support;  doesn't pull hand to the camera grip
  • the cord will cut into shoulder if heavy equipment is carried at length


Spider hand strap advantages:

  • provides wonderful support;  allows for hours of carry time without wrist or hand tiring
  • camera feels most secure in my hand
  • can be easily used on a tripod
  • very well made;  after four years of frequent use there is no sign of wear


Spider hand strap disadvantages:

  • accessing the card port is possible, but requires some manipulating
  • the hand strap cannot be used properly with the vertical grip
  • no cross body or shoulder carrying ability


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) artisan & artist silk cord best camera straps for professional gear camera straps chester morris county photographer nj photographer photography silk camera strap spider pro hand strap Thu, 24 Aug 2017 02:47:50 GMT
Dual Approach to Corporate Headshots Corporate portraits, better known as "headshots" because of their close-up style, are the most conservative of the various headshot categories.  It is key for all types of headshots to reflect the industry and the personality of the subject.  While theater and music industry headshots can be the most creative and dramatic, corporate portraits generally are the most conservative.  However, this doesn't mean that they should ever be stodgy or cookie-cutter in format.  Corporate headshots can be created using a variety of backdrops and angles to create professional and flattering portraits.

Corporate Headshots:  Natural Light and Natural Backdrop

These examples photographed in the lobby of a large office building with a ceiling of glass utilize only natural sunlight with reflectors and diffusers to manipulate the light.  They feature a more contemporary feel, while maintaining the professional look that is required.  The horizontal and square formats further modernize the image and are more flattering because the negative space frames the subject.  Note that for professional shots, I ensure that lighting on the face is always uniform;  this isn't the venue for dramatic shadows.

Gear:  Canon 1DXmarkii, Canon 200 f/2.0L shot at f/2 (I LOVE the compression it offers and the way that it makes any background melt away), Gitzo Series 3 Monopod, RRS MH-01 LR ball head, Profoto 47" diffuser, Profoto 47" silver/white reflector.


Corporate Headshots:  Studio Lighting and Backdrop

Some companies require a uniform look for all their employees, particularly if the images will appear together.  In this case Profoto studio lighting with soft boxes provide consistent and flattering illumination.  Backdrops can be black, solid white for a high key effect, or textured.  My preference for the most flattering corporate photos is a handpainted medium grey canvas roll.  The camera angle and position of the subject can be tweaked to be most flattering to each person and to offer a slight amount of variation to a set of images.  

Gear:  Canon 1DXmarkii, Canon 135 f/2.0L shot at f/2.8, Gitzo Series 3 Tripod, RRS BH-55 Ball head, Profoto B2 pair of lights with soft boxes, Profoto Air Remote TTL-C, Monfrotto Light Stands.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) canon chester, nj photographer corporate headshots headshots photography portrait photography Sun, 02 Jul 2017 16:07:25 GMT
Equipment Review: Canon 200 mm f/2.0L IS lens I wrestled for almost three years before taking the plunge to purchase this behemoth lens of legendary quality, but Canon's 200 F/2.0L IS indeed is the king of lenses and didn't disappoint!  Most reviews obsess over the large size and larger price tag, but if you're interested in the quality and look that this lens offers, both the weight and the cost are virtually a non-issue.  All of Canon's L-lenses are excellent, but the 200/2 can take a skilled photographer's images to a whole new level.  

Unboxing this lens was an experience in itself.  The 200/2 arrives in its own suitcase (overnight, thanks to B&H!).  The heft of it is a testament to its quality.  I'm sure that the glass is the size of a salad plate!  



For size comparison, Canon's largest 70-200, the f/2.8 IS L, is shown on the left and the 200 f/2.0 on the right below, both with hoods attached and Canon factory foot replaced with an RRS arca-swiss mount: MGN_7992MGN_7992

My initial test shots showed an almost Zeiss-like appearance, with awesome subject crispness and a sharp fall off to a buttery bokeh background.  



The image below is remarkable because it completely lacks chromatic aberration when shot at f/2.0;  unlike most other L-lenses shot wide open, there is no purple fringing in the high contrast areas.


Notice the extremely shallow depth of field at f/2 and the creamy blur of the foreground of the shot:


I knew that the initial images were beautiful, but I quickly remembered that I also loved the images from other Canon L-lenses.  How much different are the 200 f/2 shots as compared to, for example, the acclaimed 135 f/2.0L and 70-200 f/2.8 IS L?  To find out, I ran a series of tests.  My experiment was less scientific and quantifiable than other comparisons that can be found online (Yes, I've memorized results of other lens tests from the fantastic French DxOmark website), but my results were indisputable.  Instead of posting all the test images, I simply will summarize my conclusions.  The 200 f/2 in comparison to the 135/2.0 and 70-200/2.8:

  •  Shows significantly better contrast with whiter whites and blacker blacks.  In fact, it's so crisp that black text on a white page appears muddled with grey with the other lenses.
  • Greater compression than the 135 on the background (I love compression!)
  • Some vignetting on the periphery of the image, but not any more severe than the 135 or 70-200.  I could easily eliminate the vignetting in Lightroom CC, but I actually like it.
  • Softer, blurred bokeh, with no "bokeh bubble" lines (see comparison snapshot below.)  
  • No purple or green fringing in high contrast areas -- chromatic aberration is nonexistent in all of my test photos, but was apparent in comparable photos taken with the 135 and 70-200.
  • Crisper image at f/2 than the 135 or 70-200 at f/2.8
  • Really excellent, vivid color rendition
  • Super fast focus!

While the above judgements are based on pixel peeping at 800%, below is a quick screen shot of the same image taken with three lenses and equal framing.  The essence of the 135/2.0, 70-200/2.8 and the 200/2.0 are immediately apparent:   

A few sample shots from week one: MGN_7336MGN_7336 MGN_7373MGN_7373 MGN_7482MGN_7482 MGN_7514MGN_7514


Shooting with the 200/2.0 garners attention and comments from people passing by, many gasping "how many millimeters is that thing?"  The 200mm focal length isn't what is unique about the lens.  I have enjoyed shooting at 200mm for 30+ years, but recognize that it isn't always the idea focal length -- too long for conveniently taking portraits and too short for many sporting or wildlife applications.  Nonetheless, what makes this lens utterly remarkable is the combination of brilliantly crisp focus on the subject, a flattering level of compression, and a gorgeous fall off of focus into buttery soft bokeh (thanks to it's quality construction and 2.0 maximum aperture).  The bulk of the lens mounted on a 1DXmarkii is substantial, but nothing that a top-notch Gitzo/RRS monopod and head can't alleviate.  Nailing shots will take practice, particularly tracking fast action with such a razor-thin depth of field.  But, a photographer who masters this lens can create art so unique and of such a high caliber that the lens is worth every penny.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 200 lens review 200mm Canon best Canon lens bokeh canon 200mm f/2.0L IS canon lenses chester, nj maureen g nowak photography photography wide aperture telephoto lens Wed, 12 Apr 2017 02:44:52 GMT
Caring for Photographic Artwork The photographic artwork that I create is produced by the top professional photographic labs and designed to last for hundreds of years.  That said, proper care in hanging and cleaning is essential to keeping your product looking it's best.  

  • Heat, sunlight, and humidity can cause fading, discoloration and warping in all types of artwork.  Never hang photographic art directly above a heating unit or fireplace where it could be subject to drying heat.  Although my products are coated to help protect against UV exposure, avoid hanging art in direct sunlight.  Also, keep artwork away from high humidity areas, like bathrooms.  
  • "Less is more" is my rule when cleaning all photographic fine art products.  A feather duster or soft, dry art brush works best for keeping your art dust-free.  Never spray any cleaning product or water on any artwork.  Ammonia products are deadly to fine art acrylics and metals, and any type of moisture can damage fine art canvas.  Cleaners can even harm glass-covered prints because the moisture can seep between the glass and frame.  And blowing on your print may inadvertently deposit water droplets that can mark your print.  Also, do not use furniture polish on wood frames.
  • Use two nails in the wall instead of one to support the weight of the product.  The nails/hooks can be separated by a few inches in the middle of the artwork or placed on the edges of the product.  This distributes the weight more evenly and helps to prevent warping on frames.  Multiple hanging points also helps to keep the artwork hanging straight.  



[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) caring for photographic artwork chester nj photographer cleaning canvas photos cleaning photographs hanging photographs how to care for photos how to clean photographs photography Mon, 20 Mar 2017 11:07:41 GMT
Product Review: Fine Art Acrylic Images I am completely enamored with fine art acrylic photographic products!  Produced at the very best professional labs, they are vivid, sleek and fun.  While contemporary in style, they work with any decor and are the perfect way to freshen walls for spring.  I can produce these acrylics in a variety of sizes to adorn a table (as small as 4x4") on an easel or fill a huge wall (up to 43x96").  They can be hung using 1" or ⅝" stainless posts or with a french cleat on the back of the image--both methods prop the image about an inch from the wall.  The fine art acrylic is available in ¼ and ⅛" thickness, and I always back the product with a layer of Dibond for a substantial feel and stability.  Non-glare acrylic is an option for locations with highly reflective lighting.


This 20x30" example is produced on ¼" fine art acrylic, backed with Dibond, and hung with one-inch stainless posts.

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These 16x16" and 16x24" examples are produced on ¼" fine art acrylic and mounted with ⅝" posts, which hold the image securely about ¾" from the wall.


A 4x8" fine art acrylic example with ¼" acrylic, Dibond backing, and no wall mounting.

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A fine art acrylic sized 4x6" with ⅛" acrylic and sans wall mounting is displayed here on a 5" black easel.


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) acrylic acrylic art acrylic photography chester, nj photographer fine art acrylic photographs on acrylic photography photography products Sat, 18 Mar 2017 16:55:33 GMT
Preview: Photography to Represent Music I love working with Kristy Chmura--a talented song writer, lovely harpist, and remarkable vocalist--to create photographs that represent her music and artistic vision.  For months we brainstormed ideas for "the look" of a cover for her upcoming album, "Stained, Glass Heart," and stalked the weather reports waiting for a freakishly warm February day in the Northeast.  Kristy selected outfits, props and expressions that simultaneously exuded strength, grace and vulnerability.  I manipulated light, composition and depth of field, while assisting with posing, to create the powerful and surreal feelings in these images.  Look for Kristy's album this spring to find out which photo makes the album cover.  And, if you think that she is beautiful in these photos, just wait until you hear her sing!

Gear for this natural light shoot at sunset:  Canon 1DXmarkii, Canon 5DSR, Canon 135mm f/2.0L, 50mm f/1.2L, 35mm f/1.4L ii, Gitzo Series 3 Monopod, RRS ballhead, Spider Dual Holster, Profoto 47" Silver/White Reflector, Profoto 47" Diffuser, Ona Beacon Lens Bag.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) album cover canon chester, nj photography kristy chmura modern harp music morris county photographer musician photography ona photographic art photography rrs Fri, 03 Mar 2017 01:01:16 GMT
Equipment Review: Ona's New Beacon Bag is Totally Tubular Ona nailed it with the new Beacon lens bag addition to their camera bag line.  The modern tubular version of this vintage bag features a ballistic nylon exterior with leather trim and brass hardware.  The inside is sufficiently padded to protect lenses and it feels like there is a hard plastic liner between the padding and nylon to provide stability and protection.  The Beacon measures 18" long and has 16" of storage space inside.  The adjustable strap is removable and feels silky smooth.  I didn't miss having padding on the strap, as I worried that I might.  A center carry handle is a useful addition, as are the three circular padded dividers and the small black pouch that are included.  Two sets of zippers provide access to the long channel inside.  The final inch of my bag's zippers are extremely tough to open, which is mildly frustrating.  I'm hopeful that it will improve as it "breaks in" since it's key to open the zippers fully to easily access lenses inside.

MGN_6994MGN_6994 I received my Beacon this week, days after they began shipping from Ona, and tested it on location in fields on a shoot for an upcoming album cover.  It paired perfectly with the awesome Spider Dual Holster because it stayed comfortably behind me and didn't knock equipment attached to my hips (as more traditional camera bags do).  I was easily able to switch lenses simply by rotating the bag in front of me.  The Beacon was remarkably comfortable for several hours of wear.  Not that bags need to match, but I found the black Beacon looked great with my classy black Billingham bag and also with my dark truffle leather Prince Street and Brixton bags from Ona.  I did find it more comfortable to carry the Beacon with several lenses along with another bag holding two camera bodies, as compared to carrying two shoulder or messenger bags.


It's key to plan what you want to carry in the bag before heading to the fields because not all lenses will fit inside the bag.  I always use lens hoods on my Canon L-series lenses when shooting, both to cut potential glare on the glass and to protect the front elements of the lens since I do not use filters.  Because none of my eight lens hoods are interchangeable, I need to carry each attached to its lens.  This makes for an extremely snug fit for some lenses, so it's key to position the lens within the Beacon strategically in order to close the bag.  The center portion of the bag is slightly narrower, while the zippered covers allow a bit more space to fit the portion of a lens with hood.  This will not be a factor for everyone--in fact, non-L-series lenses may rattle around a bit loosely in the bag if dividers are not used to secure them.  The L-series lenses fit perfectly without lens hoods.  Most Canon "white lenses" either will not fit or will not fit with their lens hoods and foot attached. This has little impact for use storing lenses in the studio, but could be significant in the field.  For example, if a 70-200 2.8Lii is attached to your camera and several black lenses are in your Beacon, there is no space to fit the white lens if you switch since it will not fit in the bag with the hood/foot, nor will it fit with two other lenses.  

I found that three lenses, two lenses and a battery/cord pouch, or two longer lenses could fit comfortably inside the Beacon.  I have included photos below of various configurations to illustrate my points.      


The shoulder strap is removable and the latches swivel, allowing the bag to move freely with you. MGN_6975MGN_6975 Heavy-duty nylon fabric with leather trim and brass hardware. MGN_6976MGN_6976 Holding the Canon 35 1.4Lii, a ThinkTank battery pouch with four sets of spare batteries, and the 50 1.2L.  The smaller black pouch is included and may be attached to the walls with a velcro strip that is on the back of the pouch: MGN_6979MGN_6979 MGN_6990MGN_6990 Holding the Canon 35 1.4Lii, Canon 14L, and Canon 50 1.2L;  black pouch included:

MGN_6980MGN_6980 Holding the Canon 70-200 2.8Lii and Canon 135 2L.  Note that the 70-200 will fit perfectly, but neither the lens hood nor foot can fit into the Beacon: MGN_6983MGN_6983 Holding the included pouch, Canon 100 2.8L Macro and Canon 135 2L.  Three dividers are included with the bag: MGN_6984MGN_6984 Holding the included pouch, Canon 1.4X Extender, Canon 35 1.4Lii, and Canon 50 1.2L:  MGN_6992MGN_6992 Conclusion:  I love the new Beacon lens bag and am excited by how it will fit into my on-location photoshoots!  It's well made (as I have come to expect from Ona), stylish, and extremely practical both for protecting my lenses and carrying them.  Hats off to Ona for another great product! 

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Beacon Canon Canon gear Ona lens bag ona beacon photography bag Fri, 24 Feb 2017 02:17:57 GMT
Preview: Enchanting Engagement Photographs Engagement photographs, in my book, are second only to puppy photos!  Photographing newlyweds-to-be is all the fun of love, youth, romance and possibility without any wedding stresses.  Combine this with unseasonably warm temps, a stunning field and a setting winter sun, and it's a match made in heaven!  

Straight from NYC, enter the beautiful and classy Hayley (whom I am delighted to have watched grow-up), and debonaire Nico, both looking fabulous ...

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Gear used for this shoot: Canon 1DXmarkii with Canon 135 f/2.0L;  Canon 5DSR with Canon 50 f/1.2L and 35 f/1.4Lii; Spider Dual Holster; Gitzo series 3 monopod with RRS ballhead; Profoto 42" diffuser and 42" silver/white reflector; Ona bags.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Morris County, NJ canon 135 f/2L canon 1dxmarkii chester, NJ engagement photography engagement photos engagement portraits photography Tue, 21 Feb 2017 04:38:10 GMT
Perspective: Seeing Beauty in What is Old My "favorite" project might change every day, but this assignment undoubtedly ranks near the top for 2016.  Tasked only with capturing some images of an old farmhouse the week before it was torn down, I had carte blanche to creatively portray the beauty I saw in this dilapidated structure.  I visited the property five times during late October at hours between sunrise and sunset to capture elements of the property in peak natural light.  


I set some strict parameters for myself from the outset to guide the project – manipulating light and depth of field would be the cornerstone of my work.  There would be no artificial light – strobes, studio lights or onboard flash units.  I used the highest resolution camera on the market, Canon’s 5DSR, and a variety of Canon’s L prime lenses (14 mm through 200 mm) depending on the scope of the image and the compression that I wanted to achieve. Every image was taken with a wireless remote on a Gitzo series 3 systemic tripod with an RRS B-55 ballhead to provide maximum stability and image crispness.  


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Capitalizing on the angles of the light was key.  The mid-afternoon light spilled onto the spiral staircase in one of my favorite photos, along with the mid morning sun beaming through the cellar door to spotlight the old flannel shirt left behind ages ago.

MGN_6166-HDRMGN_6166-HDR I used a photographic technique known as HDR (High Dynamic Range) to create the landscape shots and a few interior shots, notably the “cobweb” photo taken in virtual darkness in an alcove of the cellar.  This technique layers multiple photos taken at different light settings to create the most vibrant and detailed images.  For example, the “cobweb photo” required nearly a dozen images, including one that kept the camera shutter open for nearly six minutes, during which time I couldn’t breath or risk moving a hair.  It felt like eternity as I became convinced that spiders and rats might be crawling all around me!


Some images were taken with an extremely high depth of field to capture the detail and expanse of the landscape.  Others intentionally were taken with a depth of field just millimeters deep.  This created an almost dreamy effect in some of the photos, including the ivy on the stone wall, the light through the window on the floorboards, the lockers, or the door latch to the attic.  

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An incredible coincidence emerged after I completed the work that this property is part of my family history, making the project even more remarkable and the images most meaningful.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Mendham photos Mendham, New Jersey photography architectural photography canon 5dsr farmhouse photos historic photography old house photographs photography Mon, 23 Jan 2017 14:32:47 GMT
Preview: Perfect Light, Perfect Portrait I had a blast working with these talented actors and actresses -- there was great energy and excitement as we crafted the "look" that they wanted to represent them.  The request behind this photoshoot of 27 teens was for natural light with a neutral, informal backdrop.  Bitter cold temperatures and peak mid-day sunlight kept us working inside.  Without my typical backdrops and favorite Profoto B2 lighting system, I needed to be creative with angles, location and setting. Check out the results below, as well as interesting pullback snapshots of the setting.

Canon 1DXmarkii, Canon 135/f2.0L shot at f/2.0, Gitzo series 3 Systemic tripod, RRS B-55 ballhead, Profoto 47" diffuser, Profoto 47" silver/white reflector, Tether Tools Case Air Wireless, iPad Pro.


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) canon 135 f/2.0L canon 1dxmarkii chester, nj photographer drama headshots headshots photography portrait photography theater headshots Wed, 18 Jan 2017 16:24:58 GMT
Perspective: A Photographer's Mission Reading an article today in the New York Times Magazine by English writer Geoff Dyer, an assertion stopped me in my tracks:  "The task for photographers is always to make a picture more interesting than what it depicts."  How true!  How simply and accurately true!  Dyer doesn't say that we must make the subject more beautiful or more shocking, simply that our mission is to portray it in the most "interesting" way.  A girl on a swing, a stone wall, a boy holding a football ... nothing is relegated to the mundane in a photograph.  

There are so many ways to make the subject in a photograph more "interesting":

  • Light:  The word "photography" originates from the greek words that mean "drawing with light," so it logically follows that the creative use of light in photos can be transforming.  Consider the angle, quality, color and quantity of light (natural and manufactured) when composing every image.
  • Composition:  The composition of every image is critical to the final product.  Think hard about what appears in the frame with your subject and where the subject is placed.  Utilize strategies like framing, rule of thirds, and leading lines to draw attention to your subject.
  • Interaction:  Every photograph tells a story so pay special attention to how your subjects interact with each other, how they interact with their environment, and how you interact with them.
  • Equipment:  Manipulate the aperture, shutter speed and ISO in every image to create the most interesting effects. This might include a depth of field just millimeters wide, a subject frozen in motion, an artistically blurred subject, or a highly compressed image.  
  • Editing:  The initial image captured may be just the "rough draft" of the final product.  The vast options for post-production editing  give photographers endless possibilities to layer images, alter key properties of the subject, and manipulate the final photograph in subtle or dramatic ways.

The possibilities are endless!  I can't imagine a more creative and rewarding form of artwork!


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) aperture Canon canon 1dxmarkii canon 5dsr Chester NJ photographer creative photography interesting photography photography portrait photography Sun, 08 Jan 2017 08:30:00 GMT
Perspective: It's All in the Angle I've been spotted in some precarious spots in my quest to capture unique photos!   Climbing trees, jockeying rooftops and slithering on my belly are just the beginning.  The rickety cherry picker might take the cake (and THREE times this year!)  It's always worth it because the right angle can transform an ordinary photo into something dynamic.  A high elevation allows you to keep a large number of people visible in a photo, while a low angle can add drama and power.  Pets and babies (sitting or on their bellies) should always be photographed from eye level or below.  Check out some of these examples.

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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) angles canon chester nj photographer creative photography morris county photographer photography photography perspective Sat, 07 Jan 2017 15:45:58 GMT
Equipment Review: Canon 14mm f/2.8L ii Lens Canon's 14mm f/2.8L ii is top-notch in the world of ultra-wide prime lenses.  While it's not meant for portraiture or every day shooting, it is a specialty lens that excels in architectural, real estate, landscape, environmental and some street photography settings.  I've been delighted with the lack of distortion, since most ultra wide angle lenses that I have tested take on a borderline fish-eye appearance.  Note in the sample shots below the perfectly parallel lines, particularly at the margins of the image.  Colors are accurate and well saturated.  Since most architectural photography is shot at a smaller aperture for a broader depth of field, I experienced no chromatic aberrations--ghosting, flares and fringing were completely non-existent.  When pixel-peeping, I was astonished that the clarity of the extremities of the images was nearly as sharp as the center.  The crispness and lack of distortion that the 14/2.8Lii offers is far superior to any zoom that I have tried in the past.


The large, heavy construction screams quality, as I would expect in an L-series lens from Canon.  The bulging, convex front lens element is marginally protected by a built in petal shaped lens hood.  Consequently, traditional lens caps and filters cannot be used with this lens -- and great care is needed to assure that the glass is not damaged.  While I wouldn't shoot in a downpour, it's a bonus that the 14Lii is weather sealed.  

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The 14/2.8Lii is insanely wide and not for everyone.  This genre of ultra wide lenses (defined as a focal length shorter than 15mm) can be a challenge to use.  Most people believe that ultra wide angle lenses are for "getting it all in", but images rendered can appear as a broad expanse with no compositional interest or clear subject.  Force yourself to get closer to your subject when using an ultra-wide lens to push key elements to the center of the frame. Monitor the composition at the edges as much as the center of the image.  And remember that these ultra wide angles lack the compression of their long cousins, so the difference between what is far and near is exaggerated.  The 14/2.8Lii can create stunning architectural photos which make interiors appear more spacious, although you must take special care to keep the camera body level and at the critical height to ensure that all lines remain parallel.  Alternatively, this specialty lens can be used to create some crazy angles and dramatic effects using every day items.


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 14mm lens Canon 14mm f/2.8L ii architectural photography photographer Chester, NJ photography real estate photography ultra wide angle lens Sat, 07 Jan 2017 02:18:31 GMT
Varying Focal Lengths: Scope, Compression and Depth of Field Canon L lenses are all amazing works of glass, but it's key to choose the right lens for the look you want to achieve.  The scope (the amount of ground that is included in an image) obviously differs between lenses based on the focal length's magnification.  Composing the photo to include the elements that you want included certainly is key.  But, people are often confused when I note the differences in compression (how close the background appears) and depth of field (the amount of the image in focus) that accompany lenses with different focal lengths.  I won't delve into the physics behind these optical changes, but I will share six pairs of examples taken this fall that illustrate my point.  

Example 1:

I am standing in the same location for both of these shots.  The first is taken with the new 35mm 1.4Lii at f/1.6 on Canon's 5DSR. Because of the incredible resolution of the 5DSR, the shot has a near 100% crop.  Even with the wide aperture and generous crop, note the clarity of the subjects and the background, as well as the scope of what appears in the image.  The second photo was taken seconds later with the 135 2.0L on the 1DXmarkii.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE compression?  Notice how close and soft the background now appears, and how the family seems to pop off the photo in a 3D-like manner.  




Example 2:

The first shot below is cropped from a 50mm 1.2L, while the second is taken with the same 135/2.0L as above.  Both shots are beautiful, but the feeling is different because of the way the lenses compress the image and blur the background.  

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Example 3, 4 and 5:

Same two lenses as above, but also note that  images from the 50/1.2L have greater saturation and contrast, while the 135/2.0L has a dreamier feel.  There are instances where the more punchy,  broad and almost industrial look of portraits taken close with a 35mm lens wide open can look brilliant.  The walking shot in my 12/31/16 blog post is a great example.  

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Example 5:




Example 6:

I love this example because both shots were taken from the same spot wide open (at their largest aperture) and are fantastic, yet completely different in the story that they tell.  The first was taken with the 50/1.2L and the second with the 135/2.0L.  



Bottom line:  when choosing a portrait lens, select based on the composition you plan for the image.  But, be sure to look beyond the subjects in your photo to consider how you want the background to look.   When shooting from the same position with similar aperture settings, a longer focal length will provide greater compression and a shallower depth of field.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Canon 135 2.0L canon 1dx mark ii canon 35 1.4Lii canon 50 1.2L canon 5dsr chester, nj photographer composition compression depth of field morris county photographer photography photography lesson scope Fri, 06 Jan 2017 04:47:32 GMT
Preview: Wrapping up 2016 Best Wishes for a Spectacular New Year!  Stay tuned for some fantastic creative photographic projects in 2017...

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Canon 1DXmarkii, 35mm f/1.4L ii (walking photo) shot at 2.2 and 135mm f/2.0 (sitting photo) shot at 2.2.


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) canon 1dxmarkii chester nj photographer group portraits new years photography photography Sat, 31 Dec 2016 16:45:21 GMT
Preview: In honor... I post these photos taken shortly before sunset in honor of Jennifer, a remarkable woman and a dear friend, lost seven years ago today.  Arlington National Cemetery is an especially impressive and reverent place around the holidays, with thousands of wreaths laid on each grave.  

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And in honor of my father-in-law, a truly wonderful man who served our country for so many years.   MGN_5545MGN_5545

Eleven year old Tiarnan pauses for a quiet moment with his grandfather. 


Photos 1, 2 & 3:  Canon 1DXmarkii, Canon 35 f/1.4L ii shot at 1.4

Photo 4:  Canon 1DXmarkii, Canon 135 f/2.0 shot at 2.0

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) arlington national cemetery chester nj photographer photograhy Sat, 31 Dec 2016 04:09:38 GMT
Preview: A Surprise Visitor! A surprise visitor popped into Mary and David's wedding reception this evening to wish them well ... Donald Trump!  The President-elect paused between meetings with prospective cabinet members at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey to congratulate the newlyweds.  With great charisma and a signature thumbs-up, Mr. Trump greeted the crowd and posed for a few photos.  

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Because Dave and Mary were absolutely the stars of the day, I feel compelled to share a few great shots of this beautiful and very fun couple.  

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PS.  For gear heads out there that have asked, the photos with Mr. Trump were taken in near darkness thanks to Canon's new flagship 1DXmarkII and Canon's 35 f/1.4 II lens.  No other camera I have used would have produced this level of detail at the required ISO of 5000!  The photos of the couple outdoors were taken with Canon's 5DSR and 1DXmarkII, coupled with the 135 f/2.0 (all shots taken wide open at 2.0)  and 50 f/1.2 (shot at 1.4).




[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Canon 1DXmarkii Donald Trump portrait photography wedding photography Mon, 21 Nov 2016 03:15:35 GMT
Theater Headshots: The Most Dramatic Portraits I simply LOVE theater headshots because they offer the opportunity for an extremely dramatic portrait.  The industry standard is unique in the photography world -- heads clipped, composure tight, eye at the thirds, and depth of field shallow.  More than most photography, we capture the subject's personality through the eyes.  These headshots are all about the Eyes and how they transmit Expression.  

I put my own spin on these portraits.  I believe that natural light trumps studio strobes every time.  Mid-winter sunlight in the northeast is clean and bright--unmatched with the help of diffusers and reflectors.  And, an insanely shallow depth of field (using Canon's L glass wide open between f/1.2 and 2.0) makes any background melt.  These shots are not about smiles (although they can work magic at times), but about expression.  

Check out these awesome actors and actresses ... and a fun phone shot at the end showing the surprising on-location set up I used to capture them.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Morris County, NJ canon 135 f/2.0L dramatic portraits headshots morris county morris county headshots morris county photography photography theater headshots theatre headshots Wed, 20 Jan 2016 02:29:27 GMT
Strategies for Arranging Photography on Walls Arranging photographic art products as a group on a wall is a subjective task:  there is no one right way to lay them out. But, there are some guidelines that I have developed over the years to make the arrangements more balanced and aesthetically pleasing.  These strategies apply to any kind of artwork, but are especially useful with gallery wrap canvases.  Below I use foam core boards cut to various standard photo sizes to design wall arrangements utilizing certain strategies.  


1.  The Large Rectangle

The art is arranged within an imaginary rectangular line.  Margins inside the rectangle can be equal (2.5 inches in the first two examples) or uneven (as in the third arrangement.)  


2. Center Line (with Bottom Row Aligned)

An invisible horizontal line between the top and bottom rows of images grounds the arrangement.  The bottom side of the top row of photographs sits on the line, while the top side of the lower row meets the invisible line.  All margins are 2.5 inches.  The base of the bottom row of photographs is level, top of the first row is not. The symmetry provides balance and order to the arrangement.


3.  Bottom Row Aligned (No Center or Top Alignment)

A triangular arrangement with a peak in the center of the top row is always flattering.  All margins are equal at 2.5 inches.


4.  No Exterior or Center Alignment (Circular Pattern)

Even without center alignment or a straight exterior base line, these arrangements work because they have symmetry and/or a larger image grounding the display.


5.  Staircase (Top and Right Side Aligned; Stepped Alignment on Left Side)

Staircases and landings offer a fun location for arrangements that follow the rising stairs. In this case the top and right side of the arrangement mimic the strait line of the wall, while the bottom and left side track the rising stairs.    

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) arranging canvas on walls canvas layouts gallery wrap canvas layouts interior design photography wall art displays wall art layouts Sat, 16 Jan 2016 15:12:46 GMT
Mark Reunions and Milestones with Professional Photos Family portrait photography serves many purposes.  Most often in taking portraits I strive to capture a person's spirit artistically using creative lighting, composition and depth of field.  Other times, however, the goal is to mark a point in time.  We go to great effort to gather extended family together to mark a special anniversary, birthday, graduation or holiday so it seems natural to commemorate the time together with a photograph.  Entire multi-generational families, cousins, adult siblings, sub-families, and grandparents with grandchildren are just a handful of the combinations of portraits taken.  And, marking the occasion with flattering natural light photos outdoors makes the outcome even more special--even if snowstorms and tricky lighting try to get in the way!  These photoshoots are always great fun--I love getting to know each family! 




[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) family photographs photography portrait photography reunion photographs Fri, 01 Jan 2016 20:00:00 GMT
High Resolution Photos Make Websites Pop High quality professional photographs are key to bringing a website to life.  The internet is a visual place, which makes high resolution photos pivotal to selling a product, a service, a house, or a business image online.  Bright, clear, well-composed photos make a website engaging and help convey a vibrant business message.

  • High resolution screens require high resolution photographs.  With retina displays and high resolution smartphones dominating the market, web designers are utilizing attractive, large format photographic backgrounds.  
  • More data = more potential.  High quality pictures also mean that you can edit and crop photographs if needed without degrading the photo's appearance.  
  • Low quality photos cheapen your business image.   Photos taken with a phone or point-and-shoot camera make your site feel cheap with grainy, pixelated images.  This sends your visitor the message that you are an amateur.
  • New photos keep your website fresh.  Pictures are an immediate sign that you have updated your site, and they show visitors that they will find fresh content on your site.  
  • Building trust.  Images that are relevant to what you are writing or selling build a trust with your clients and underscore your business message.  

2016 will bring higher quality screens and more creative websites, all loading at speeds faster than ever before.  Give me a ring to discuss how unique images can make your business stand out among competitors.  Following are a handful of examples of images I created that helped sell products and services in 2015.  


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) advertising photography photography website photography website photos Thu, 31 Dec 2015 22:33:35 GMT
Preview: Wrapping up 2015 2015 has been a great year for photographic creativity, and Im excited to see what 2016 brings.  I have some great ideas and projects to share via this blog during the coming months, so stay tuned.  For now, I want to wrap up 2015 by sharing a favorite shot that stretched my artistry.  The image was taken recently after sunset with multiple light systems to backlight the six subjects, illuminate just enough of their faces, and highlight the tree.  I used this photo wrapped on the outside of a 5.5 x 8" folded horizontal card that opened width-wise (fold on the left) with a smooth, high-gloss finish. The effect was dynamic!  Happy New Year to All!

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) group portrait night photography photography portrait at night portrait in the dark Wed, 30 Dec 2015 04:09:41 GMT
Preview: A pup with a remarkable future Meet Xylar, a seven-month old Black Lab-Golden Retriever mix who will one day make a life changing difference for her human companion.  Xylar is a member of the Puppy Raising Program at The Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey.  When she is about a year old, she will begin training to enhance the independence, dignity and self-confidence of people who are blind.  For now, however, Xylar is delighted to eat dandelions and frolick in the late afternoon autumn sunshine surrounded by stunning foliage on The Seeing Eye's beautiful campus.  Life is good for this friendly pup ... hats off to The Seeing Eye organization for the noble work they do!


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) black lab photo foliage morristown pet photography seeing eye the seeing eye Sat, 17 Oct 2015 01:37:20 GMT
The 100 Day Project: The Final Chapter 11

I am absolutely thrilled to share that I completed all 100 days of my colossal project that began on the Summer Solstice in June.  I'm especially proud of how the images developed and the complexity of some of the shots from the last week. I was determined to finish with a bang ... and how couldn't I when I begin the final week with a black evening gown and a sparkling 2015 white Porsche? Click to view a slideshow of the complete project.

Quick recap:  100 days of images, each taken of one subject outside in only natural light.  Canon’s flagship 5DS R mounted with Canon’s 50 mm f/1.2L lens was the only one that could be used.  And, every shot had to be taken “wide open” at an aperture of f/1.2, which creates an extremely shallow depth of field.  The lens at this setting is one of the most challenging to shoot with, and it’s now among my favorites.  The project was inspired by a broad-scoped challenge in “The Great Discontent” magazine — the parameters for the project were my own choice.  The daily goal was to be creative, unique, and true to my style — it wasn’t about the most flattering portrait or hokey poses, rather about manipulating light, perception, angle, depth of field, and composition for the final product. 

Fun facts:  No typical smiling shots; in fact, only five out of 100 have smiles — and those were completely spontaneous grins.  Out of 100 pics, 68 are color, 26 black/white, 2 color/black-white mixed, 2 split toned for a sepia effect, and 2 partially desaturated.  Most shots were taken in Chester, NJ, although about 20 were taken in the Adirondacks, Poconos, Bernardsville, Gladstone, Delbarton, Elmwood Historic Cemetery in New Brunswick, Bucknell University, and Lehigh University.  

A special thanks to all the individuals and businesses that allowed me to shoot on their grounds.  And, most important, hats off to my six awesome models for joining in my creative endeavor!

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​Note:  Check out a recent blog entry for the story behind this swan song shot!


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 Day project 100 day project 50mm Canon 50mm f/1.2L Canon 5DSR canon f/1.2 light natural photography photography photography project portrait photography portraits Sat, 10 Oct 2015 07:15:00 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 10 Days 83 to 91 of my 100 Day project follow.  I am nearing the project's homestretch and am completely energized to design new creative portraits.  Check out the play with lines and contrast through some of these shots.  


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 Day project 100 day project 50mm Canon 50mm f/1.2L Canon 5DSR canon f/1.2 light natural photography photography photography project portrait photography portraits Fri, 09 Oct 2015 07:15:00 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 9 Following are the images from days 74 to 82 of my 100 day project using Canon's flagship 5DSR and 50mm f/1.2L lens set only at f/1.2.  I love the angles and play with light in these shots.  It's fun to watch my subjects engage in the creative process, helping to brainstorm layouts and locations.  Im having a blast!


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 Day project 100 day project 50mm Canon 50mm f/1.2L Canon 5DSR canon f/1.2 light natural photography photography photography project portrait photography portraits Thu, 08 Oct 2015 07:15:00 GMT
Preview: A New Image for a Dental Office I loved working with Dr. Patti Swaintek-Lamb and Aesthetic Dentistry of Bernardsville to revamp their public image through photographs.  After brainstorming together, we decided on a "Bernardsville theme" using natural light outdoors around their office community.  The results were stunning and fun -- the perfect representation of their unique, modern, professional and friendly dental practice.  


Dr. Swaintek-Lamb (center) and her beautiful and talented staff in Bernardsville, NJ:


​Individual staff portraits are perfect for their website, brochures, Linked In, conferences, and other advertising.  Photographing the women in natural light outdoors provided a more flattering, modern, and friendly look compared to a staged studio shoot.  This echoes the friendly and approachable style of their office.


I also photographed numerous patients with their new perfect, sparkling smiles.  I produced these images on 16-inch square fine art metal to create a stunning wall collage that is the perfect testament of Dr. Patti's talent (and much more personal than stock photos of strangers.)


I included images of their state-of-the-art equipment in use -- great pictures to use in their blog entries or website articles.


And... a fun shot to capture the spirit of the office staff!

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) dental office dental photography dentist photography portraits website photography Wed, 07 Oct 2015 08:15:00 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 8 It feels like I'm running a marathon!  Check out days 65 to 73 of my 100 day project.  I think hard for hours to come up with a creative look and location that stays true to my style.  I love some of the locations for the following backdrops, including an abandoned girls school, a cemetery in Gladstone, Lehigh University, a butterfly launch, an arboretum, and the streets of Chester Borough.  


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 Day project 100 day project 50mm Canon 50mm f/1.2L Canon 5DSR canon f/1.2 light natural photography photography photography project portrait photography portraits Tue, 06 Oct 2015 07:15:00 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 7 Following are days 56 to 64 of my 100 day project.  I paid special attention to composition (think: rule of thirds), background elements (i.e. the arch framing, the curve of the train tracks, etc.), and depth of field (i.e. eyes crisp but helmet blurred, flowers soft and dreamy looking.)  


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 Day project 100 day project 50mm Canon 50mm f/1.2L Canon 5DSR canon f/1.2 light natural photography photography photography project portrait photography portraits Mon, 05 Oct 2015 07:15:00 GMT
Preview: Adding Zest to Team Photos Team pictures are classic ... wonderful memories that document a point in time and membership in a group.  But, who says that you can't add a bit of spice to the classic shot?  It's always more fun to capture personalities and the camaraderie between players.

For a sharp look, shoot and crop for a longer, narrower 1:2 ratio that mimics the layout of the team: 



When printing and/or framing for team members, add the team and year for posterity and print in a 2:3 ratio (i.e. an 8x12" print) instead of the more typical 4:5 ratio (i.e. 8x10" print) MGN_5151_textMGN_5151_text


After the traditional team shots, capture the players informally for some magical memories.  In the following shots, graduating Seniors who have spent years playing together show their lighter side. MGN_5121MGN_5121 MGN_5165MGN_5165 MGN_5179MGN_5179


Adding graphic designs, names, years, motos and more makes the memory all the more special ... especially when produced on a fun high-gloss surface like fine art metals or acrylics, like below.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) group photos portraits sports photography team photos Sun, 04 Oct 2015 20:02:00 GMT
Preview: Creating an Album Cover I loved working with my favorite musical artist, Kristy Chmura, to craft a cover for her new solo song release, "Over."  Manipulating light, composition and depth of field, I captured hundreds of images in different settings.  Together, Kristy and I studied and edited the images to choose the one that best represented the essence of her music and would introduce her image worldwide.  To catch this magical light, I shot this image in an arboretum just one minute before the sun dropped behind a hill.  

Check out Kristy's awesome original song on iTunes or on CDbaby!  And, watch for another cover with a wonderfully mystical photograph in the coming months.  



[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) album cover iTunes music portrait photography portrait song cover Sat, 03 Oct 2015 16:33:37 GMT
Preview: Guaranteed Smiles with the Unexpected! Looking for a surefire way to capture genuine smiles during a portrait session?  A paint war!  This clan was expecting a traditional portrait session in a field, so imagine their surprise when I pulled out six white t-shirts and mason jars filled with washable paint!  Check out a sampling of shots below from their escapade and consider booking a paint war session this fall for a completely unique holiday card!  

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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) action portraits candids paint war photography Fri, 02 Oct 2015 12:37:41 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 6 My photographs for days 43 to 55 follow.  I continue to shoot this project only with Canon's new 5DSR and a Canon 50mm 1.2L lens, set exclusively at the wide open 1.2 setting to create a dramatically shallow depth of field.  Many of these images are influenced by my recent studies on posing.  I highly recommend the book Picture Perfect Posing, by Roberto Valenzuela (2014).  Valenzuela offers a calculated system to pose subjects in the most creative and flattering ways, taking the puzzling guesswork out of designing high impact portraits.


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 Day project 100 day project 50mm Canon 50mm f/1.2L Canon 5DSR canon f/1.2 light natural photography photography photography project portrait photography portraits Wed, 12 Aug 2015 12:38:05 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 5 Here is the next installment of my 100 Day Project.  I'm excited that I am still finding creative new ideas each day with the 50 mm lens set at the unique (and challenging!) f/1.2 aperture setting.  Check out this week's images with insanely shallow depth of fields...


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 day project creative portraits", portraits, "portrait photography" photography Thu, 30 Jul 2015 22:43:36 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 4 Im loving what I'm discovering in this project!  I am staying true to the parameters:  a daily photograph using only available light, the new Canon 5DSR camera body, Canon's 50mm 1.2L lens shot only at the tricky (but potentially magical) 1.2 aperture, and six rotating subjects.  It's not about the most flattering portrait, but about manipulating light, composition, and depth of field in the most creative ways.  Check out the latest ...


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 day project", portraits, photography Mon, 27 Jul 2015 00:19:44 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 3 Ten more days of shooting to share ... Im really having fun with this project!  One change to the original mission:  no more quotes from the subjects because they began to say outrageous things for effect.  Im keeping the project pure, so following are just the pictures.

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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 day project creative portraits photography portrait photography portraits Sun, 19 Jul 2015 03:27:26 GMT
Preview: Natural Light Communion Photos I adore all of the subjects that I photograph, but this young lady was an absolute joy.  This photoshoot ranks top for any portrait photographer:  an incredible English garden setting, soft pre-sunset summer lighting, a white gown, wildflowers, a new top-of-the-line camera, Canon's awesome L-lenses, and a young lady who was completely captivating. Since I shared some dapper young men on their First Holy Communion day (see here), I wanted to give the ladies equal billing.  Taking these pictures with natural lighting outside and on a different day than the Holy celebration gave us more control over lighting and backdrop, and completely eased any stress for the subject.  I highly recommend because the results are magical!


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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) first communion portraits natural light portraits photography portrait photography portraits Sat, 18 Jul 2015 02:57:49 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 2 I am having a blast each day with the 100-Day Project!  For background on my latest creative endeavor using only natural light and a Canon 50mm 1.2L lens, see last week's blog entry.  Check out the latest eight days of images ...


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Will basketball be cancelled because of the thunder?


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One minute 'til midnight.


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What am I supposed to do?


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I feel bugs under my feet. 


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I've probably missed the whole World Cup game by now.


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I could go really fast ...


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Just because ... !


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Canon 50mm 1.2L natural light photography photography Wed, 08 Jul 2015 00:21:20 GMT
The 100 Day Project: Chapter 1 On the Summer Solstice I launched a personal photography venture called The 100 Day Project.  The project was originally the conception of The Great Discontent magazine (learn more about it here), but I adapted it to my own goals.  Each day I strive to take a photograph unlike my typical style.  I set certain parameters -- I must use Canon's revolutionary new 5DS-R camera with a 50mm 1.2L lens.  My choice of lens is a homage to Ansel Adams, who shot only with a 50mm because it is closest to what the eye actually views.  I must shoot the images at the camera's maximum aperture of f/1.2, which creates an extremely slim focal plane.  My subjects are teenagers and I aim to capture their essence at this complex age.  In creating each image, I am manipulating light, composition, angle, textures, and depth of field.  Just for fun, I record under each finished photograph the day and what my subject said to me as I snapped the photo.  

Each day I must remind myself that the photograph I take is not about perfection, but about the compilation of a set.  This is a learning process, and I am tremendously excited about it.  I share the first nine days of photography below and welcome your thoughts.


Day 1Day 1Did you know that every time you take my picture, I lose part of my soul?


Did you know that every time you take my picture, I lose part of my soul?


Day 2Day 2Do I look like a character from "Children of the Corn"?


Do I look like a character from "Children of the Corn?"


Day 3Day 3I can see you.


I can see you.


Day 4Day 4There's a car coming behind you.


There's a car coming behind you.


Day 5Day 5Can you wait to take my picture until I get my hair cut?


Can you wait to take my picture until I get my hair cut?


Day 6Day 6Welcome to my lair.


Welcome to my lair.


Day 7Day 7Can I have a dog up here with me?


Can I have a dog up here with me?


Day 8Day 8Can I just go play?


Can I just go play?


Day 9Day 9Can we take my senior portraits here?


Can we take my senior portraits here?






[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 100 day project black white photography photography portraits Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:39:39 GMT
Equipment Review: Ona Leather Camera Bags Some women love collecting shoes or purses;  for me, camera bags are irresistible.  I decided that I wanted to augment my arsenol of bags with something small and classy -- just large enough for my camera body with lens attached, one additional lens, and maybe a wallet/keys/glasses.  As my research grew past my favorite classic line of Domke bags, I discovered the Ona bags and knew that I had to have one.  I was intrigued by this young New York-based company (which will soon celebrate its 5th anniversary) that seemed to know just what I was looking for.  It's quality products and interesting website are definitely worth checking out.  Thanks to B&H, the Prince Street and Bowery models were at my door the next day.  Both come in several canvas colors (smoke, field tan and black) and two leather choices (cognac and dark truffle).  The beautiful quality of these bags is absolutely unparalleled to any that I have seen.  Shown below is the Prince Street on the left and the Bowery on the right, both in Dark Truffle leather. 


Both bags have a shoulder strap with extra leather padding where the strap sits on your shoulder (the Bowery's strap is removable) and a rear pocket.  The Prince Street also has a useful removable hand strap.  The Bowery has one interior leather pocket and one clasp on the front, while the Prince street has two of each.  The Bowery also has two very small pockets on each side, which are virtually useless because they are hard to access even with small fingers.  Interior padding is the same, but the Prince Street comes with more removable dividers.  The inside flap of the Bowery is made of leather, and while the Prince Street has canvas inside the flap (the leather is much nicer, but probably was probably omitted on the Prince Street to make it lighter.)   MGN_4263MGN_4263

The Bowery comes with one divider, and the Prince Street with a removable divider that sits along the back wall to hold a tablet, and three smaller internal dividers (only two are shown below.)  Velcro allows the dividers to be easily moved and repositioned.  Ona lists the exterior dimensions of the Prince Street as 12 ½ x 10 x 4 ½ inches, and the internal dimensions as 12 x 9 x 4 inches.  The smaller Bowery model reportedly is 10 ½ x 7 x 4 inches on the outside, and 10 x 6 x 4 on the inside.  This is obviously inaccurate since the nice interior padding mades it impossible for the Bowery to be both 4 inches inside and outside.  I measured the Bowery interior depth at 3.25".   MGN_4269MGN_4269

For my purpose, these inaccurate measurements on the Bowery were a deal breaker.  Shown below is Canon's new 5DS-R with the 24-70 f/2.8 L lens attached.  Indeed, as other reviewers reported, the 5D professional line fits inside the Bowery, but I found it extremely difficult to close--too challenging to latch while walking with one hand, it required a two-handed wrestling move.  The result when closed (photo below) resembled a stuffed sausage more than a classy rectangular bag.

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That said, I would highly recommend this bag to anyone with a prosumer or amateur system because the fit would be perfect and the style and function unbeatable.  Shown below is my original 1980 Canon A-1 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens in the Bowery bag. MGN_4274MGN_4274

Good news though for pro-shooters, the Prince Street is a perfect fit when traveling light.  With the tablet sleeve removed (A nice option for travel, but Ive never seen a pro carry a tablet to a photo shoot anyway), the 4 ½ inch tall 5DS-R fit nicely inside the depth of the Prince Street.  Shown below is the 5DS-R with 24-70 f/2.8 L lens and hood, Canon 135 f/2 L with hood, and wallet, glasses and keys. I love the easy access to my phone in the rear pocket (which does conveniently have a magnetic closure, unlike the Bowery's rear pocket) and the smaller pockets in the front for extra memory cards, batteries, business cards, etc.  Because of the 9" interior height of the bag, there remains room for any extras on top of the gear (or under it).  As seen in the second photo, there is no "pull" or awkward shaping when the bag is closed.

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Here, the Prince Street Holds the 5DS-R with Canon 50 f/1.2 L attached, and the 135 f/2.0 L and 100 f/2.8 L Macro flanking the camera.  Plenty of padding keeps the gear secure (something I am a stickler for) and there is additional room across the top for a wallet, flash in padded case, etc.  I love that the camera fits perfectly on its side with the grip (and Joby wrist strap) in the up position for quick removal while walking.  The third divider and tablet divider are shown outside the bag in this image.

The Prince Street works beautifully as strictly a lens bag.  Shown here stocked with the Canon 135 f/2.0 L, Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS, and Canon 100 f/2.8 L Macro (all with hoods), the bag can be left open and lies flat against your body.  This allows for quick lens switches.  Not shown, but another great option, the Prince Street will fit two pro camera bodies each with a lens attached and a divider between the two systems.   MGN_4284MGN_4284

A quick comparison between the Ona Prince Street and the Domke F-4 Pro, both which hold a similar amount of equipment inside the padded compartments.  I love each equally for different reasons.  The Domke seems to expand endlessly and allows me to stuff the side pockets full of extra paraphernalia.  And, it's soft, broken in canvas forms to me when worn cross body.  But, the Ona is classy, non-camera-bag-looking, and slim enough to lay close to my body without getting in the way.  I will be using both, sometimes for the same photoshoot instead of my large, heavy bags.

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The Prince Street is shown here with the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS attached to the 5DS-R camera body.  The bag will not close with this arrangement.


The next two photos of the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS mounted on a camera body inside the Domke A-4 Pro shows how adaptable this bag can be. MGN_4298MGN_4298 MGN_4296MGN_4296

Below, a few close-ups of the Bowery and Prince Street bags.  The quality of the leather and the workmanship is stunning.  I love the way the strap on the Bowery is easily removable if you want to use the bag inside a larger travel bag. MGN_4299MGN_4299

I find the smaller hand strap on the Prince Street invaluable.  I am constantly grabbing for the smaller strap on the Domke bags, and I love the way the handle lays out of the way when the shoulder strap is being used.  I dislike, however, that the shoulder strap on the Prince Street is permanently attached.  Why can't it be removable, like on the Bowery?  The shoulder strap can fit inside the bag while closed to allow for only hand strap carrying (see second photo below), but I'd rather use the valuable space inside the bag for photographic gear and not a thick leather strap.  Also, when using the smaller hand strap, the attached shoulder strap prevents it from sitting in the center of the brass bracket, which means the bag cannot be carried evenly without tilting.  The third photo below shows Domke's easy solution to this problem--simply align the hand strap under the shoulder strap.  I wish that I could cut off this shoulder strap and purchase the removable Bowery strap from Ona--that would solve these minor but irritating problems. MGN_4303MGN_4303 MGN_4305MGN_4305 MGN_4306MGN_4306


Bottom Line:  you can't have too many camera bags and I believe that everyone needs to have an Ona leather bag in their collection.  The quality is unparalleled and the look is simultaneously modern and classic.  While pricey, these bags will last a lifetime.  The Bowery bag is stunning but definitely best suited to amateur gear.  The Prince Street won't carry all of your pro gear, but is perfect for small shoots or traveling around town with a bag that doesn't scream "photographic gear."  I also will be using it as a lens bag when my camera is in my hand and I need three quickly accessible lenses attached snugly to my body (definitely a classier option with more protection and uses than the shoot sac lens bag, albeit heavier.)  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) bowery camera bags domke leather camera bags ona photography photography bags photography gear prince street Sun, 21 Jun 2015 22:32:56 GMT
Preview: Quick and Natural Prom Photos It's prom season again, but that doesn't mean tedious pictures snapped mercilessly in front of the fireplace. These shots were taken in minutes, with no time for switching lenses, staging lights, or perfecting poses.  In fact, the spontaneity prompts more natural smiles and some candid shots that tell a story with spunk!  Add some extra drama with a banner in Photoshop, individual shots with a shallow depth of field and sunlight behind (don't forget exposure compensation!), fun angles, and tightly posed group shots. Most important, work quickly and keep the instructions to a minimum.


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) group photography photography portraits prom prom photography Sat, 30 May 2015 18:21:42 GMT
A Perfect, Personal Going Away Gift A photograph and inscription on any size fine art metal, canvas or acrylic makes an ideal, personal good-bye gift.  The photograph can be of a town, house, school or other memorable location; a special item with local significance, such as a team helmet or street sign; or a portrait of friends together.  The inscription can be comical or sentimental.  Regardless, the final product will be unique and one that the recipient always treasures.

In this example, the photograph and inscription were specially chosen and created on a vivid fine art metal (see a review of this modern product here.)  


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) fine art metal going away gift good-bye gift photography photography gift photography on fine art metal Fri, 15 May 2015 01:00:00 GMT
Perspective: Flowering Spring Trees It doesn't matter that I have ten zillion pictures of flowering trees, taking these shots each year is irresistible and my own talisman of spring's arrival.  Im sharing a few shots that feature unique techniques to differentiate them from the typical flower pics. Most of these were shot with my favorite Canon macro L-series lens:  the 100 mm f/2.8 L IS macro.


Shooting directly into the setting sun without losing detail is a tricky feat:


I love black/white and I love color.  Who says you can't have the best of both worlds?


Shooting white on white isn't easy but gives an interesting result with varying tones:


Controlling depth of field with multiple subjects--while keeping bokeh in the background--is walking a fine line:


Shooting as the sun is rising gives pictures a calm, ethereal effect with a touch of morning dew:


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) flower photography flowering trees photography photography techniques spring photography Mon, 11 May 2015 13:35:14 GMT
Preview: Looking Dapper at their First Communion First Holy Communion day is one that a child always remembers, and these boys are looking dapper in their jackets and ties outside the church after the special ceremony.  In addition to the requisite family portraits, I caught a few pics that capture the spirits of these beautiful children.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) first communion first communion photographs natural light photography photographs photography portrait photography Sun, 26 Apr 2015 15:30:13 GMT
Preview: Delbarton Freshman Lacrosse in Action The freshman boys from the Green Wave lacrosse team have been anxious to see the photos that I took during the last two games for their lacrosse yearbook.  A selection of 30 follows ... go Green Wave!


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) action photography delbarton lacrosse lacrosse photos photography sports photography Thu, 16 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Equipment Review: Canon 135 f/2.0 L Lens Almost nothing is as exciting for a photographer as testing a new, long-desired lens!  After years of reading endless equipment reviews, I took the plunge and purchased Canon's 135 mm f/2.0 L lens.  Long regarded as "king of the L-lenses", I hoped it would fill a void in my prime lens line-up.  I wasn't convinced that it could compete with my treasured 70-200 f/2.8 L IS lens for crisp portraits with perfectly blended bokeh (background blur).  But, it was love-at-first-shot, even though I learned about the 135's foibles over the next 24 hours.  Read on for details...

Note:  All photos were shot in the late afternoon under thick cloud cover at ISO 200 and f/2.0 to test the lens at it's extreme.  They are shown below unedited except for the "lens correction" application when importing into Lightroom 5.  Hats off to two of my favorite redheads for tolerating yet another impromptu photoshoot with only moderate complaining.


First shot out of the box:  a quick candid with no prep; it couldn't possibly look sharp, could it?  Amazing ... I was hooked.


Gorgeous soft bokeh and an incredibly crisp focus point.  Shooting wide open at 2.0, I expected a depth of field so shallow that only one eye (the closest always) would be in focus.  But, compared to the Canon 50 mm f/1.2L (which I have a love-hate relationship with because of it's extremely shallow depth of field), the results were beautifully gradual in their blur and popped on my 27" screen.


Shooting strait on, every eyelash and freckle is perfectly defined.


Testing the lens at a distance, the background still melts away.  


This lens is FAST at 2.0!


Gorgeous color and perfect skin tones make this a perfect portrait lens.


The 135 seemed like it might be my new favorite for portraits, but how did it really compare to my 70-200 f/2.8L IS pride-and-joy?  I had to compare apples-to-apples to find out.

Canon 135 f/2.0L:  Photo at 135 mm, ISO 400, f/2.0, 1/1250


Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS:  Photo taken at 135 mm, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/500


Canon 135 f/2.0L:  Photo taken at 135 mm, 400 ISO, f/2.8, 1/500


Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS:  Photo taken at 200 mm, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/500


Result:  Full frame on my 27" hi-definition screen, I loved them ALL!  Crispness, color, bokeh, everything.  

  • Crispness without IS:  I had worried about my not-so-steady hands with a non-IS (image stabilization) lens like the 135, but it's so fast with its wide aperture that the shots were consistently crisp.  
  • Vignetting: There was definite vignetting (a darkening/fall off of color around the edges of an image) with the 135 at both f/2.0 and 2.8 (much more than with the 70-200 2.8L IS) but it was corrected completely with one click in Lightroom 5.  Besides, I often like the vignette effect on portraits.
  • The 135 was considerably faster at 2.0 than my prized zoom, which would enable shooting with even less light.

Then the disappointment:  when I zoomed up 8x the size, there was a bizarre "purple fringing" around high contrast areas, such as the word "Canon" on the vintage A-1 camera.  Fringing is a ghost like shadow, most often purple, magenta or blueish, that is a form of chromatic aberration.  It is fairly common with wide apertures, but I had never experienced it with any of my other lenses.  It appeared at both f/2.0 and 2.8 with the 135L lens, but not with the 70-200 at f/2.8.  The vignetting was completely correctable in Lightroom 5, but still a disappointment.  See for yourself:


First photo above from the 135 Lens (no editing):  (note: the purple fringe is glaring on my full screen, but the effect is slightly diminished here because I had to screenshot to post the example.)  

First photo above from the 135 lens after correcting in Lightroom 5 (desaturating purple, magenta and blue)

Second photo above from the 70-200 lens (no editing, no purple fringe)


Bottom Line:  The 135 f/2.0L is a keeper.  There was no vignetting on any of the portraits, which means that this minor flaw isn't a deal-breaker for me.  Even without the convenience of a zoom, the lighter weight and maneuverability with this lens makes the 135 prime more comfortable and steadier to work with than the 70-200 white monster.  I'll be carrying both in my bag!  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 135 f/2.0L Canon Canon 135 2.0 lens Canon 135 lens lens review Wed, 15 Apr 2015 20:24:11 GMT
Captivating Yearbook Ads Who says that advertisements that parents submit to high school yearbooks must have a cliché greeting and a collage of dozens of baby photos?  Here are a few examples of how these ads can be catchy, artistic, humorous, and tell a broader story of the high school years.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) advertisements photography portraits seniors yearbook Fri, 10 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Spice Up Group Photos with Modern Graphic Layouts A dramatic graphic layout and a dynamic metal surface gives any posed group portrait a modern, catchy look.  I produced the group shots below on a high-gloss sheet of fine art metal in a unique 12"x24" dimension.  The result was striking!



There was lots of information to share in this 12x24" fine art metal -- school, crest, class, player name/number/position, all the seniors' names, and the team moto.  Using complementing colors and a creative arrangement, this piece was a standout.


Easel backs are optional, but I recommend the metal bracket shown here for hanging larger metal pieces.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) fine art metal fine art metal photography graphic artwork photography sports team photos Thu, 09 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Team Photos: A Great Example! Yesterday's blog entry about team photos as keepsakes got me thinking about how fun it is to watch a team grow-up over the years and sparked me to share this example in my blog.  Below is a series of photographs of the same team from second through eigth grade shot at the same time each year on their home field.  Note the consistent font, colors and layout.  Each year I framed the 8x12" photos in a slim black frame for a consistent appearance.  I have heard that many of the boys in this league hang their photos together on their wall--undoubtedly a fun momento of their years playing youth lacrosse.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) photography sports sports photography team photography Wed, 08 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Team Photos: The Perfect Keepsake Team photos are the perfect keepsake to commemorate a season together on the sports field.  Unlike cheap trophies, these will be treasured at the end of a season and are great fun to look at over the years.  I frame 8x12 inch lustre photographic prints (the longer length is perfect for team shots) in slim black frames for a classic look year after year.    



[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) photography sports sports photography team photography Tue, 07 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Interior Design Photography: Making the Tricky Look Easy The challenge behind taking professional interior architecture photographs is to make them look natural, portraying exactly what your eye sees.  A person's vision will naturally compensate for bright light coming from windows and darkened areas in the shadows, but a skilled photographer must use the camera to manipulate the exposure to produce an evenly lit product.  A strong tripod (Gitzo carbon fiber legs are the best with an RRS mounted head -- check out my recent blog entry on these) is a must to capture a high depth of field with limited light.  These images also require careful composition and extensive photoshop processing to ensure that all vertical and horizontal lines are level, and extraneous items are removed from the photograph.

The following photographs feature design work by Janet Villafane (Villafane Design) and custom cabinetry by Brian Arnold (B.A. Woodcraft).  I heartily recommend both for their artistic abilities, design knowledge, top-notch craftsmanship, and for being an absolute pleasure to work with. 

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Architecture Interior Design Interior Design Photography Interiors Photography Mon, 06 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Off Season Portrait Photography: A Flattering Option Most people imagine portraits in a summertime setting, children clad in sundresses and surrounded by lush green grass.  However, the "off-season" months of November through February can be equally beautiful.  The late autumn light tends to be soft and golden, and the background more neutral.  These flatter skin tones and result in stunning portraits.  The following shots were taken between the last week of November and the end of January.  

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[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) photography portrait photography portraits winter Sun, 05 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
The Non-Awkward Prom Photos With the quick approach of spring prom season, it seemed timely to look at a remedy for those awkward prom photos.  Certainly, the traditional couple shots are a right of passage, but capturing the spirit of the night means catching the teens when they are most comfortable with their friends.  


​With little time or control over location and lighting, look quickly for a neutral backdrop, shoot at a wide aperture, put the sun behind your subject, and spot meter to avoid underexposure.


Tell a story!  This shot of twins Tim and Ryan is worth a thousand words.


The seconds before or after the posed shot is often the most priceless.  I love the story this shot tell of these sisters.


Tux shots in black & white are vintage and chic!


Details matter...


Capture the girls and boys separately for an entirely different look.  For most teens, proms are more about friends than couples.​


Don't forget that pic with Mom and Dad...


And any picture of teens interacting...


And, yes, this shot is a must for the record book, but who says it has to be shot in a traditional 2:3 ratio?


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) event photography photography prom photos proms seniors Sat, 04 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Oh, What to Wear! The most frequent question I get before any portrait session is "What should I wear?"  While the choice is completely personal and almost anything can work, I always recommend classic styles and neutral colors.  We are past the 1990's look where everyone wore white shirts and khakis/jeans.  Think of dressing for a group picture like adding pillows on a couch--the clothing should coordinate and not take away from the overall look of a group portrait.  You will also want to keep in mind the backdrop (fall colors or a beach scene) and the intention of the photo (a formal First Communion or a casual backyard family reunion.)  Avoid pinstripes, turtlenecks and bright whites when possible.  Following are some combinations I thought were the perfect mix.

No need to buy special clothing.  In the image below, I instructed each child to go to to their closet and choose a nice top and bottom that was light blue, dark blue, grey or tan.  I allowed one girl to wear a print, but told the others to stick to solids.  The result worked perfectly, and the colors coordinated nicely with the beach scene without distracting from the photograph.

Individual portraits allow for more flexibility.  Try spicing up your look with a fun accessory, bright color, or chic look.  But, don't take it too far or you will be laughing at the photo in ten years.




[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) attire clothing photography portraits what to wear Fri, 03 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
The Evolving Portrait Wall Imagine a wall that grows with your family.  Creative images that capture the spirit of each child at a particular point in their lives taken in their unique life setting.  I recently did this for the Lee family (possibly the most wonderful family I know!), capturing their grown children in the heart of Manhattan, the fields of Palo Alto (well, almost the California fields), and suburban New Jersey.  I produced the pictures on a modern and stunning fine art metal, and marked each with the location and year.  Im excited to watch as spouses and babies join the wall, and our photoshoot locations change.  


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) fine art metal photography photography collage portraits Thu, 02 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Product Review: Framed Fine Art Canvas Photographs on top quality fine art canvas take beautiful portraits to a whole new level.  In these examples, the ink is embedded into a consistent, finely-woven art canvas.  The canvas is then coated with a semi-gloss lustre coating to protect it from UV rays and scratches.  It is then mounted onto three mm styrene for strength and professionally framed.  The result is timeless and modern at the same time.

Note in the picture below that there is no glare on the canvas photograph from any angle as compared to the china cabinet glass next to the picture.  


Close-up pictures showing the grain of the canvas.  


Always professionally finished on the back and ready to hang.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) fine art canvas framed canvas frames photography portraits Wed, 01 Apr 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Product Review: Classy Notecards Mix a dramatic photograph with beautiful papers and you get extra-classy graduation announcements and thank you notes.  Always custom designed and printed at the professional labs on the best papers, these are guaranteed to be treasured by everyone who receives one.  Tyler's set shown below is printed on 130-pound premium cotton paper for a thick, velvety feel.  Heavy-weight matching envelopes are always included.

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Delbarton announcements graduation graduation announcements notecards photography thank you notes Tue, 31 Mar 2015 22:05:31 GMT
Classic and Unexpected Beach Portraits Beaches are the quintessential natural light portrait location.  Indeed, their gentle post-sunrise and pre-sunset light is soft and golden -- flattering to all skin tones.  And, the neutral tones of the water, sky and sand make for a timeless backdrop.  In the group portraits below, the dunes were the only prop available to layer my subjects and add dimensional interest to the final images.  In the individual portraits, I shot with a 200mm L-lens  "wide open" with an aperture of f/2.8 to create a dreamy, softly blurred backdrop.  Group photos require a wider angle and higher depth of field.  

Attire is key in any group portrait.  I recommend avoiding the "matchy-matchy" look of the 1990's and the crisp white shirts with khakis look of the 2000's.  Avoid competing patterns and choose a few complementary colors for everyone to choose from.  For summer beach portraits, my favorite is navy-light blue-grey-tan combinations.  

The ocean isn't always the most interesting background for your picture.  Look for opportunities to utilize the sky, and place the setting (or rising) sun in the top corner for group portraits.  Experiment with backlighting by placing the sun directly behind your subject.  Expose for the sky if you want a silhouette (2nd photo below) or spot meter for your subject to keep faces properly exposed (3rd photo below.)

Remember that beach photographs are by nature less formal.  It's normal (and somewhat desirable) to have hair out of place or sand on your skin.  
But, who says that portraits have to be posed?  My favorites capture my subjects interacting with each other and with nature!  These kinds of pictures will make you smile for years to come.
[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) beach beach photography photography portraits Thu, 17 Jul 2014 22:07:48 GMT
Perspective: Currituck Wild Horses The wild horses that reside on the shores of Currituck, North Carolina are spectacular to watch.  Descendants of mustangs and brought to NC by the Spaniards, these beauties have survived nearly five centuries living on the coast.  I captured these shots early one morning last week on the beaches about ten miles north of Corolla where I found them frolicking in the surf and feasting on dunes.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) corolla currituck horses photography wild horses Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:41:37 GMT
Product Review: Dynamic Sports Pics I have shared samples of the different types of fine art metal photographic products that I carry, but I just had to illustrate how incredible action shots look on these thin sheets of high gloss fine art metal.  They arrive ready to hang with the box bracket already attached to the back.  These photos of the photos don't display how sharp the images are, with vidid colors and a high gloss sheen.  They truly look just as amazing as Jack did on the lacrosse field one spring evening!  

Four 8x12 consecutive shots of Jack winning a face-off on the lacrosse field will hang in a row over his desk:

The fine art metals are available in dozens of sizes.  This one is an 11x14 stand alone:


Notice how thin and glossy this sheet of fine art metal is and how it will hang about an inch from the wall.


The back view shows the box bracket used to hang the artwork.  The metal art also is available with no bracket (to display on an easel or shelf) or with four stainless pegs mounted in the corners.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) fine art metal metal sports sports photography Tue, 17 Jun 2014 18:39:49 GMT
On Assignment: Climbing to New Heights Have I mentioned that I LOVE my job because I get to try the most unexpected things to creatively capture the perfect image?  Tasked with taking a unique photo of the recruited athletes from Delbarton's senior class, I climbed to the top of a rickety old electric cherry picker.  The boys, clad in the garb of their future college and carrying one piece of their sporting equipment, formed a ring around the logo on Delbarton's turf field.  The athletes are posed in the first photo, cheering for the Green Wave in the second shot, and running braveheart style (for old times sake) in the third image.  Terrifying?  Completely.  Thrilling?  Absolutely!  

Way to go class of 2014!

That's me in that cherry picker bucket!

That's me in that cherry picker bucket!


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Delbarton aerial photography class of 2014 photography sports photography Thu, 05 Jun 2014 00:58:57 GMT
Perspective: The Bare Branches of Late Winter As crazy as it sounds, I am fascinated with the silhouettes of trees against an almost black sky just before the leaves appear.  I love the way the branches twist, weave and multiply, and the intense depth of the sky color after sunset.  It's simultaneously spooky and stunning.  These shots all required my Gizmo tripod for a lengthy multi-second exposure that defies the almost black sky.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) gitzo nature photography photography Fri, 18 Apr 2014 07:05:00 GMT
On Assignment: Mansion in May Excitement was in the spring air yesterday as hundreds of people worked busily to transform Blairsden Mansion in Peapack-Gladstone, NJ, for the opening of "Mansion in May" on May 1st.  I was thrilled to be a very small part of this design wonder as I photographed "La Chambre de Chiot" (the Puppy's Suite.)  Susan Hayes of Re-Feather Your Nest designed this oh-so-charming room in the Beaux-Arts style of the mansion.  The proceeds of Mansion in May benefit an expanded pediatric intensive care unit and autism center at Morristown Hospital. 

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Blairsden Mansion in May interior design photography interior design", architecture photography Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:01:04 GMT
Equipment Review: Gitzo-RRS Perfect Monopod & Head Combo Monopods are indispensable for adding stability in tight quarters.  I use one for virtually every sports shoot because it helps steady my equipment and supports the heavy weight of my long lenses, all without getting in the way of athletes or significantly hindering my maneuverability.  I was quite content with my aluminum Manfrotto head and leg system until I was wowed by the Gitzo-Really Right Stuff tripod combination.  The only thing better than having a Gitzo-RRS tripod is having a Gitzo-RRS tripod and Gitzo-RRS monopod!

Gitzo:  A great tripod experience led me strait to the series 3 monopods by Gitzo, specifically the GM3551 (see my explanation in yesterday's blog post, but this code represents a Gitzo Monopod, series 3, carbon (5) leg, 5 sections, 1st edition of this model.)    I chose the 5-section version because I often do need a shorter monopod so that I can shoot while sitting on the ground, and so that it is easier to carry inside a large camera bag if needed.  The monopod extends from 21.3 inches to a stunning 75.6 inches.  I thought that I couldn't possibly use a monopod well over 6 feet until I first used it in the stands of a hockey game and had the option of grounding the rubber foot on a lower level, and subsequently was able to hold the camera on the monopod high above a lacrosse team huddle to capture a unique angle of the game.  

Gitzo reports that the GM3551 weighs only 1.37 pounds but its carbon strength can support up to 40 pounds of equipment.  My only distrust is the webbed handle (great for backup, but I wouldn't trust all my gear to this strap) and the screw mount.  I worry that the head could unexpectedly loosen from the screw mount, so I will be conscious to check it regularly.  

Really Right Stuff:   I selected the RRS MH-01LR monopod head with a B2 ASII quick release clamp.  This system utilizes the same plates for my camera body and long lenses as my tripod system, which makes the systems conveniently compatible.  It is steady, smooth to adjust, and quick to mount--everything that I could need from a monopod.  


Similar to my tripod set-up, I knew that I needed a sleek, safe way to transit my monopod when it wasn't in use.  I found Gitzo's case intended for its smaller series one tripods to be a perfect fit for the series 3 monopod with head attached.  Seen above and below is the GC1100 bag by Gitzo.  Gitzo reports that it is 3.6" in diameter and 25.6" long--a size that fits the monopod with head securely with a convenient double zipper, handles and adjustable shoulder strap, and plenty of padding to keep the system safe in transit.  

The Really Right Stuff L84 plate is custom made for Canon's 70-200L IS lens.  I also purchased a plate that remains attached at all times to my 5Dmarkiii body.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) GC1100 GM3551 Gitzo MH-01 photography photography equipment really right stuff review Sun, 06 Apr 2014 08:15:00 GMT
Equipment Review: Gitzo-RRS Perfect Tripod & Head Combo I'm famous for researching even mundane choices virtually endlessly.  So, when it was time to replace my vintage monster-size Linhof tripod, I spent months investigating every detail of every tripod & head model manufactured.  The result: a Gitzo-RRS combination that I am confident can't be beat and will outlast any other photographic equipment I own.

Gitzo:  The lightest, sturdiest and sleekest carbon fiber legs on the planet.  After much debate, I settled on the Gitzo GT3532LS.  For those new to the Gitzo numbering system, the first letter is for Gitzo (G), the second letter is for the type of device (T=tripod), the first digit is the series (3), the second digit is the leg material (5=carbon), the third digit is the number of segments (3), the fourth digit is the edition of this model (second version in this case), the L stands for Long, and the S stands for the Systematic series (no center column.)  Other terms that are common include: EX (explorer series), LVL (leveling series), G (geared), T (traveler series), and V (video adapter.)  

I chose the series three as the perfect mix between the too-light series 1 and 2 models, and the too hefty series 4 and 5 models.  The carbon legs were a key motivation for my upgrade due to the added strength and lighter weight.  I chose 3 sections instead of 4 or more for the added stability and quick set-up--these factors were more important to me than a shorter folded length, which is more portable.  I love that the Systematic models are the most stable because they lack a center column.  The advantage of the quick height adjustability of a column is negated by its inherent instability.  Many studies prove that the center column becomes a monopod mounted on a tripod, increasing camera shake.

I worried that I would miss the quick lock release on my Bogen-Manfrotto legs, but now am not looking back.  The screw extensions are easy to master after a few tries (yes, I unscrewed them too far more than once), and feel more secure and easier to control than the latch systems.  I was also concerned that I would be stooping slightly with the standard length GT3532, so opted for the Long version.  While I am only 5'6" tall, I find that the extra few inches of height allows me to stand straight when using the tripod on a slope or stairs.  Conveniently, there are markings on each of the three legs that happen to make the system exactly the height I need it to be when on level ground.  While adding a couple of ounces to my tripod's weight, the option of having the extra height is worth it to me.

RRS:  I hesitated to take a brand named Really Right Stuff seriously until I read review after review gushing about their impeccable quality and workmanship.  I knew that I wanted the strong quick release system like Arca-Swiss has manufactured (the Z1 is reportedly excellent), but I was leery of purchasing third party or generic mounting plates for my camera and long lenses.  It was an added plus that RRS is manufactured in the US, and I became fascinated with the company's history and products as I studied their website for hours.  I considered the smaller BH-40, which is rated to hold most of my gear--but opted for the stronger and larger BH-55 bullhead   I took the gamble, waited a week, and knew the second I held it that this tripod head was a work of art.  The bullhead glides smoothly, the dials easy to use, the balance simple to calibrate, and the mount quick, secure and flawless.  



For portrait orientation

Integrated screwdriver

Screw based leg-lock system with rubber feet attached.  


Metal hook under tripod for hanging weights or camera bag.  Excellent for holding your gear-bag out of the mud and adding extra stability when you are in the middle of a windy sports field in April!

Amazing how low it can go!

The Gitzo GC-3100 padded tripod bag is a perfect fit for the Gitzo 3532LS with the RRS MH-01 bullhead attached (with padded cover that is included with the ballhead )  The bag is described as 32.3" long by 5.5" wide -- a snug but safe fit.  The double zippers make entry easy, the padding is generous, the small pocket inside useful, and the strap adjustable.  I also like that it is simple and professional looking, unlike some flashier competitors.  A newer version of the bag was just released, but it is significantly larger and more expensive.  If you can find the 3100 in stock, you'll find it perfect to carry your valuable gear.  

This Really Right Stuff L84 plate is custom made for Canon's 70-200L IS lens.  I also purchased a custom plate that remains attached at all times to my 5DmarkIII.  

Where to buy:  I turn to B&H for virtually all my photographic needs, and they had the Gitzo legs and bag shipped to me in a day.  Really Right Stuff can only be purchased from RRS itself at it's California offices.  I did call them to discuss my purchases and welcomed their advice and very personal customer service.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 3532LS GC3100 Gitzo MH-01 RRS Really Right Stuff Tripod gitzo monopod photographic equipment photography Sun, 06 Apr 2014 01:37:07 GMT
On Assignment: Re-Feather Your Nest I loved working with Susan Hayes of Re-feather Your Nest to capture images of some of her stunning interior decorating.  Not only does Susan have a unique eye for mixing the perfect decorating essentials, but she is wonderful to work with.  Susan works with homeowners to best utilize their own furniture and heirlooms, and augments them with key accessories to create a stylish and comfortable place to call home.  You can see more of Susan's work on the slideshow on my website, as well as on the Re-Feather Your Nest website.  Also, watch for Susan's decorating fortes at the upcoming Mansion In May in Peapack-Gladstone.  


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) interior decorating interior design photography Sat, 05 Apr 2014 00:12:12 GMT
On Assignment: 130 Boys I admit that I thought photographing 130 teenage boys would be like herding cats, but these guys were awesome.  Check out the before and after pics here.  We shot in minutes and they were back to class.  Hats off to the class of 2014!

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) 2014 Delbarton large group portraits Thu, 20 Mar 2014 23:14:13 GMT
Product Review: Boutique Wood Frames Boutique style wood frames are the perfect contemporary look to complement any portrait.  I carry these fun frames in many sizes, four distinguished shapes and three colors--black, brown and off-white.  I love that they are strikingly stylish, but not too frilly.  Your lustre professional photograph would be mounted on a styrene foam board, coated with a protective UV finish to safeguard against sunlight and scratches, framed in quality hardwood, and backed with black framing paper, a wire hanger, and corner bumpers.  There is no glass, so no distracting reflection.  The result is creative and brings a spark to any room!



[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) black white photography boutique frames frames photography portuguese water dog Wed, 19 Mar 2014 19:15:00 GMT
Product Review: Fine Art Metal Artwork Photographs professionally printed on Fine Art Metals are my favorite because of their rich colors and unique style.  I offer two metal products which are suited to different types of images.  The first is a Fine Art Aluminum "box" with a photographic surface that appears smooth and matte, like velvet (photos 1-5 below).  Landscapes and portraits look elegant on this product, which may be produced in four sizes (16"x24" shown below).  The second is a thin sheet of high gloss metal, ideal for sports images and vibrant photographs (photos 6-7 below).  These may be placed on an easel (as shown below in an 8"x12" size), or mounted on the wall with stainless pegs or a metal bracket.  This is a rare instance where my photographs of these amazing products just don't do them justice.  Both arrive ready to hang without additional framing and make a stunning statement in any room.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Delbarton Fine Art Metal Old Main Photography Tue, 18 Mar 2014 18:29:31 GMT
Senior Yearbook Pages Many high schools allot one page to each graduating senior.  The full page (8.5x11)  black/white photo must be creative, whimsical, humorous, taken on the school grounds, and representative of the student's personality and interests.  The composition must allow space for photo insets (traditional posed shots), quotes, and the student's name.  This is just slightly less challenging than crafting the college application essay masterpiece!  But, I think that they are among the most fun photographs to create.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Photography Seniors Seniors Yearbook Yearbook Sun, 16 Mar 2014 22:15:00 GMT
Perspective: A Pileated Woodpecker This cool-looking guy moved into our yard today and seems unphased by the activities of 6 kids and 3 dogs below him.  It's been two years since he was last here, so I couldn't resist capturing some photos of the bird with the red cap.  Since he was pecking non-stop faster than I could count, I shot at 1/4000 of a second, f/4.0, ISO 500 for most of the pics using a Canon 200 mm f/2.8L IS lens with a 1.4X III extender.  


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) photography pileated woodpecker woodpecker Sat, 15 Mar 2014 15:58:14 GMT
Perspective: A New View of Winter Tired of winter in northern New Jersey?  Maybe these photographs will make it seem beautiful and magical for at least a few minutes.  One confession:  it was so cold outside when I spotted these stunning icicles that I used a Canon 200 f/2.8 lens with a Canon 1.4xIII extender to capture these shots through an open window from the warmth of indoors!  Winter lighting is stunning because light reflects so evenly off of snow.  Always shoot "wide open" at your camera's largest aperture to capture awesome bokeh (the soft, dreamy background blur) that you'll see in these photos.  

[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) Photography icicles nature winter Sat, 15 Mar 2014 15:30:37 GMT
Commissioned Art Work: Guitars on Fine Art Acrylic Sharing pictures of some recent commissioned artwork seems like the perfect way to start my blog.  I loved working with Tim and Tammy to create artwork that was unique, creative, and reflected their style and passion for all types of guitars.  Using fine art acrylics mounted on the wall with stainless steel pegs produced vibrant, high-resolution images with a contemporary flare.

Not sure what special gift to get the person who has everything?  I can create custom artwork of virtually any subject imaginable.  Pets, a favorite hobby, musical instruments, sports teams, and nature photographs are just the beginning.  The professional labs that I swear by will produce breathtaking artwork on fine art metal, canvas, acrylic or specialty papers.  There is no limit to what we could create together!


[email protected] (Maureen G Nowak Photography) commissioned art custom photography guitars Fri, 14 Mar 2014 20:51:34 GMT