As I continue to study painting and all of the profound things it can teach us as photographers, I find myself more often looking beyond the obvious compositions, and more towards the smaller details. Whether we call them abstracts, extracts (as Ansel Adams preferred), or intimate landscapes (my favorite), the idea is the same. We focus on the smaller details that allow us to remove visual cues such as scale and location, and focus on patterns, shapes, and mystery. Imagination becomes much more of a factor both for the photographer and the viewer.
This has been on my mind more and more as I struggle with conveying my feelings about what I see and experience, especially when I travel to unfamiliar locations. I took the time to visit a few galleries here in Denver Colorado, and it immediately became apparent that most of the locations I planned to visit have been photographed countless times. That doesn’t discourage me in the least, but rather provides a challenge I enjoy. How can I interpret the landscape in my own original way?
I’m a professional photographer and I have a confession to make. I use my iPhone camera more often than my 5D Mark II. It’s true. My iPhone is with me about 100% of the time. The 5DII – not so much. It just isn’t practical to lug around a bulky, three pound camera everywhere I go. As a result, it isn’t uncommon to find me pointing my iPhone at a nuclear sunset, a funky tree or a buddy shredding on his mountain bike. The photo above was made last night while guiding a couple clients on a lovely afternoon in Arches National Park. I used two apps: Autostitch to create a pano from several frames and Nik Software’s Snapseed to process the image on my iPhone. Photoshop? What’s that?
No doubt many of my colleagues find this amusing, maybe even annoying. I don’t care. You see, I believe that even serious photographers can improve their skills using an iPhone, point and shoot or other unsophisticated little camera. I enjoy the process of making photographs. I get fired up when I’m able to make a photograph of a beautiful, fleeting moment in nature. Sure, given the opportunity, I’d reach for the 5DII. When it isn’t available but my iPhone is, should I just not make an image? There are times I just sit back and enjoy the moment. Not every sunset needs to be photographed. But, there are also occasions when I’m stoked to have my iPhone so I can share the moment with friends and family.
If you live near our hometown of Louisville, KY, you’ll want to check out this event and unload some of that old gear that’s sitting in your photo closet. OPG customers can come in a day early and beat the crowds! See details below.
OPG customers can come in Thursday, July 19th from 10 to 5 and beat the crowds!
KEH events usually draw long lines as they send their event newsletter to thousands of folks in the surrounding areas. We arranged for KEH to come in Thursday for a customer “VIP Day”. In addition to the KEH Event, we’ll have in-store specials and sales. We’ll also give a way a Retrospective Lens Changer Bag courtesy of Think Tank Photo.
Even if you don’t have gear to sell, stop by and say hi!
Lightroom 4 now lets you trim and edit DSLR video.
If you have yet to push that video button on your DSLR because you’re daunted by the task of editing all those video clips, you might want to give Lightroom 4 a go. Lightroom now lets you trim and make develop edits to video clips. While you can’t actually edit video in the Develop module, there is a way to make tonal and other changes, which I’ll outline below.
First, I’ll outline how to trim a video clip. When you look at a video clip in Loupe view, you’ll see a play button and some other icons at the bottom of the preview. You can now play videos directly in Loupe view by clicking the play button, and by clicking on the gear icon in the lower right you can trim the clip. When you click this icon, you’ll bring up a frame view of the video with handles on the right and left. Just drag these handles to trim the video. One note – this doesn’t change the original video file – the trimming is applied when you export the clip.
You can make develop changes to a video clip in the Quick Develop panel, or by capturing a frame from the clip as a jpeg, making develop changes to the jpeg, then synching those changes to the video clip.
Most of us at one point or another have heard or read the maxim in digital photography commonly titled “expose to the right”. But do you really do this on a regular basis, and do you know how? More importantly do you know why? I’ll try to answer these questions as simply as I can and also provide some tips to put this practice into use every time you go out and shoot. After all, I don’t know of a single photographer that doesn’t want to come home with the highest quality images possible.
Many of the students I work with seem to be unclear about exposing to the right, and I think part of this can be attributed to 2 main reasons:
Not having a full understanding of the reading and use of the histogram
Depending on the LCD preview on the back of the camera as a way to aesthetically judge proper exposure, color, and contrast.
First, Let’s Talk About Camera Sensors
All digital camera sensors capture light in a linear fashion, starting from black to white (left to right on the histogram). This means they capture fewer levels of information in the shadows, and the maximum number of levels in the highlights, just before clipping. In other words, the sensor is much more sensitive to brighter levels of light that darker ones.
This is the main reason why we see digital noise in the shadows and not the highlights. The “signal to noise” ratio is much higher in the highlights, therefore noise can only rear its ugly head in the shadows where this ratio is much lower.
I’ve lead or assisted at a lot of photography workshops over the last six years and in that time I’ve noted several issues that seem to be common among novice landscape photographers. As I think back to my own early photographic escapades I must admit that I made several of these same mistakes – some times over and over. And over. What? I’m a slow learner! Perhaps pointing out a few of these issues here will help some of you avoid extending the already daunting learning curve any farther than necessary.
If you’re a photographer who’s in to lighting at all, then you have to admire this amazing portrait done by Art Streiber to celebrate Paramount Pictures 100th anniversary. I’m totally in awe by Streiber’s work in general and even more so by the logistics it took to put together a shot like this. Click on it for a larger view.
Fstoppers has an awesome interview with Art Streiber on their website about the shoot and what it took to pull it off. In a nutshell, there are 116 actors and actresses in this extravaganza group shot and Mr. Streiber mentions something like 57 Profoto heads were used to light this.57. WOW!
Also, if you’d like to see who all of the actors are, check out this post over at Vanity Fair. You can scroll your mouse over the image to see the name of each individual actor or actress.There’s also a short behind the scenes video below.
So the next time you’re fretting about doing a group shot, just keep in mind that at least you didn’t have to photograph 116 of the biggest stars in the movie industry with umm… tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear! Don’t think my insurance would have covered that one.
Fourth of July is here again. With it, many (if not all) of you have aspirations of capturing fireworks photos this year. Here are some tricks I use to capture fireworks photos. Hope you find them helpful…
Ready? Here we go…
No doubt, you have read several articles on how different photographers shoot fireworks. Keep in mind this is more art than it is science and all of these articles (mine included) are starting points. Use what makes sense to you and then adapt it to make it your own.
For most, the style of fireworks shots you are aiming for will require a long exposure. In doing son, you capture the trails of light emitted from the fireworks. For that kind of photo, here are the essential gear you will need: A tripod, a cable release or remote trigger, a working knowledge of how to operate your camera, and (because it is dark out) a headlamp.