Photo Critique – Garden of the Gods by Jim Hamilton.

Garden of the Gods by Jim Hamilton

Garden of the Gods by Jim Hamilton

Thanks to everyone who contributed photos for last week’s assignment, Use Your Histogram. From the descriptions some of you added to your photos, it’s obvious you’re getting the hang of adjusting your exposure based on reading the histogram – great job! Continue Reading

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

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

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

Welcome to MonkmanPhoto.com.

Today I am excited to launch this new website devoted to sharing outdoor photograph tips with all of you who love exploring nature and having adventures with your cameras. While we’re just getting started, I feel that there are already some great tips to watch and read through and I hope you find it a place you visit often to learn, see some great images, and share your own work. Continue Reading