Week 3: Composition Basics.

Now that you understand light and exposure (you did watch the tips from week 1 and week 2, right?) it’s time to tackle composition. Composition is the most creative part of photography and involves a myriad of concepts, from perspective and balance, to depth of field and scale. It’s also an aspect of photography that requires a lot of non-technical input like imagination and inspiration. That part is hard to teach because it comes from the heart, but there are some technical considerations in regards to composition that I’ll outline in the next few weeks. Continue Reading

Color workflow – Image Editing and output

In the previous segments, we have discussed color spaces and profiling your monitor. Now we will discuss how to set Photoshop and Lightroom for best color space use.

First, Lightroom. Lightroom actually doesn’t use a colorspace profile for an image until it is exported to a different image editor. So the setting of a profile is actually which profile will be assigned to the image when it is sent to an external editor.

To set this up, we go to Lightroom> Preferences 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

Photo Critique – Hudson River at two times, by Bill Bogle Jr.

Hudson River in Mid-day light by Bill Bogle Jr.

A big thanks to all of you who submitted photos for this week’s assignment! I think it was very interesting to see the dramatic difference in photos shot of the same subjects at different times of day – I’m happy to see that my message got across! Continue Reading

Week 2 – Use Your Histogram

Modern cameras are pretty good at determining the proper camera settings for making properly exposed photos, but if you are going to consistently achieve well-exposed images you will eventually need to take your camera out of program mode and make your own decisions regarding exposure. Back in olden times (about ten years ago,) we shot film and couldn’t see our results until that film was developed. I know I regularly threw out a number of slides per roll due to poor exposure, despite using several techniques for determining proper exposure. With the advent of the histogram in digital cameras, there really is no need to improperly expose an image if you are paying attention. Continue Reading

Photo Critique – Fog in Yellowstone by Chris Lascell

Fog and Trees by Chris Lascell

Fog and Trees by Chris Lascell

This week, I’ve chosen to critique Chris Lascell’s photo of fog and trees. Chris shot this on a recent trip to Yellowstone National Park and says that “The photo was taken near Old Faithful. It’s an area of the park with lots of geothermal activity, so remains covered in fog until late in the morning. The fog lifted and almost immediately switched to bright mid-day sun.” Many of my favorite nature photos involve dramatic atmospheric conditions, and fog is something I seek out whenever I can in order to add a bit of mystery and mood to a photo. Being in the right place at the right time is half the battle in outdoor photography, and Chris did a great job of finding a scene with beautiful subject matter and light. Continue Reading

Week 1 – Maximize the Light.

It’s time to kick off my new photo course with tip number 1: Maximize the Light. I hope you’ll follow this course through to the end ten weeks from now, but if you take one thing away from my tips, it’s that you need to shoot your subject in the right light. If you do everything else right when taking a photo, but the light isn’t right for your subject, the best you’ll end up with is an average photo (and it will probably be worse than average!) In the video, I describe the differences between “golden hour” light, mid-day light, and diffuse, overcast light. If you’re new to outdoor photography, you might not necessarily notice the difference when you’re out shooting, but now that I’m explaining the differences to you, it’s your job to take the time to learn to see subtle differences in light and then apply what you learn to making photos. 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

Color Management- Monitors

Monitors have come a long way from the first monitors I used that would show only text and were one bit. The CRT (think your old television set before they went flat screen) was the way to go until the early 90’s when the TFT LCD screens starting coming out (TFT= Thin Film Transistor, LCD= Liquid Crystal Display). These earlier LCD screens were backlight with a CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) but have been replaced by LED (Light Emitting Diode) backlighting. To add to the confusion, LCDs can vary in the manner of display of their crystals. 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