Three Great Outdoor Photography E-books.

Exposure for Outdoor Photography by Michael Frye.

I recently came across three photo e-books that I thought I’d share with you (don’t tell my publisher I’m sharing these…) I can heartily recommend all three of them. They come from a trio of western photographers who all have a knack for creating unique and compelling photos from some of America’s most iconic landscapes. Continue Reading

Developing in Lightroom 4.

If you follow photography at all on-line, you probably have noticed that Adobe released Lightroom 4 today. Surprisingly, they’ve lowered the price dramatically from when Lightroom 3 was originally introduced (from $279.00 to $149.00!) The upgrade price is down to $79.00 from $99.00. (By the way, if you’re a member of the North American Nature Photography Association, http://nanpa.org/, you can get a 15% discount on all Adobe products.) If you are already a Lightroom user, you’ll notice two new modules in version 4 – Map (which lets you view GPS encoded images on a map), and Book (which lets you design books using some pre-loaded templates, and then export them to a pdf or publish them as Blurb book.) I can see myself using the Book module more than the Map module. The new feature I am most excited about at this point is the ability to now preview, trim, and color correct video clips in the Library module. This should be a big help to me as I’m shooting more and more video. However, in this post, I want to describe a few of the differences in the Develop module between versions 3 and 4, because anyone making the upgrade from Version 3 is going to notice these changes immediately. Continue Reading

Lacking Clarity.

By applying a negative amount of clarity to this image in Lightroom, I achieved a soft, ethereal look in this photo.

For most of my career, I was an Ansel Adams devotee with my landscape photography, almost always striving for tack sharp images from front to back. I’d step away from this look for a lot of my adventure images, as well as wildlife and flower portraits, where a shallow depth of field was warranted for making my main subject stand out from the background, but even in these images if I did my job, the main subject was tack sharp. During the last two or three years I’ve been experimenting with different looks to my landscapes where large portions of the image were not sharp. I now purposefully blur photos by moving the camera during exposures, using a post-processing technique called the Orton effect, and shooting with a Lens Baby – a little lens that blurs and distorts much of the image. Continue Reading

Add Blacks to Give Low Contrast Images Some “Pop”.

Shot in low-contrast, overcast light, this colorful scene lacks pop, but that can easily be fixed in post-processing.

If you shoot photos in even lighting situations (like on a foggy or overcast day), you will probably end up with a lot of low contrast images. These photos may have good colors and textures, but they’ll seem a little flat or drab. Continue Reading

Basic Photoshop – Create a Split ND Effect with a Layer Mask

This is a composite of two images, combined using a layer mask in Photoshop.

The graduated split neutral density filter has been a must-have filter for nature photographers for years.  The filter basically has a dark gray top half and a clear bottom half, with a gradual transition from gray to clear, and comes in a variety of strengths and gradations.  Placed in front your camera’s lens it allows you to capture detail in the bright highlights in the top half of a scene (usually the sky) and still capture detail in your shadow areas (I’ll be explaining how to do this in Week 9 of my on-line course.)  With the advent of digital photography, photographers are able to simulate this effect using a variety of techniques, from HDR processing to the shadow/highlight adjustment in Photoshop to liberal use of the recovery and fill light sliders in Adobe Camera Raw.

Continue Reading

Basic Photoshop Skills – Layer Masks

I used to consider the use of Layer Masks in Photoshop to be an advanced technique, but it has become such a commonplace and important part of post-processing photos, that I now think of it as a basic skill that all Photoshop users need to have in their arsenals. It can seem a little confusing at first, but once you understand how it works it is really quite simple and powerful. Continue Reading

What to photograph during a winter with no snow.

Dawn over the Atlantic, Rye, NH.

Dawn over the Atlantic, Rye, NH.

If you live in the northern U.S., you are probably experiencing a low snow winter this year. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire where I live we haven’t had any appreciable snow since before Halloween! The gray and brown hues of a snowless landscape can definitely make it hard for a landscape photographer to be inspired enough to get out there and shoot. I feel fortunate that I chose his winter to start a new project I call 0630, where I go out every morning and make a picture at 6:30 (you can read more about the project in this post I made over at the Outdoor Photographer website.) The project has forced me to get out and shoot, when I normally would have stayed in bed, and it’s really getting my creative juices flowing and giving me good practice on techniques I don’t always use on a regular basis. For most of the last 6 weeks, I’ve been shooting primarily 30-45 minutes before sunrise, so here are some tips on what to do when it’s winter, it’s dark, and there’s no snow. Continue Reading

Winter Photo Tips

Fall Snow.
Fall Snow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I posted this on my other blog back in October, but given the season, it seems appropriate to post it again here. Winter is a great time to get out and make some photos – if you’re prepared for the cold and snow. Continue Reading

Right Place, Right Time.

Rain showers over Long Island Sound.

Rain showers over Long Island Sound.

A big part of nature photography is being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes this is luck, like in the above photo of a storm in Long Island Sound, but most consistently successful photographers make their own luck through attention to detail and hard work.  By putting yourself in beautiful places at the right time, you give yourself a much better chance of getting a unique photo when weather conditions and light are at their best. For several years, I’ve been using various software programs to chart sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times and positions to help me determine where and when to be for the best light. I’m currently using an iPhone app called LightTrac and a PC program called the Photographer’s Ephemeris (which also comes in an iPhone version) to do this. Continue Reading

Thinking about texture.

Patterns in the snow on Second Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg, NH.

Patterns in the snow on Second Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg, NH.

I’ve had a hard time getting motivated to post to this blog lately because I’m in the process of writing two books this winter, and it really is taking up every free minute of the day. However, with the recent snows here in New England, I’ve had a few chances to get out and shoot. One aspect of winter photography that seems to really resonate with photographers is the incredible textures found in fresh snow, wind blown snow, frozen snow, any kind of snow. I’ll be talking about this in detail in one of the books I’m writing (The AMC Guide to Digital Outdoor Photography,) but I thought I’d briefly discuss it here today. The texture of snow varies of course, but when photographed properly, the viewer feels like he or she can almost reach out and feel the individual snow crystals. When the snow is blown into ripples like in the above photo, the texture itself becomes an important compositional element. Continue Reading