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.
Do you already own a Rogue Flash Bender made by ExpoImaging? If so, then you will definitely want to pick up one of the new Diffusion Screens. These handy screens improve the light from the flash bender by diffusing the light giving it a softer quality, especially when used in close to your subjects.
The Rogue Flash Benders are handy speedlight modifiers that simply velcro on to your flash, and can then be adjusted and formed to better control and shape the light. The new Diffusion Screens simply velcro on to your already existing Flash Bender and help to spread and soften that light. The new Diffusion Screens also come in two sizes, one for the large Flash Bender and another for the smaller one. The large screen creates a 9″ by 8″ source of light and the smaller one is 9″ by 4.5″.
To give a frame of reference of the differences between using a bare flash and the Flash Bender with the new Diffusion Screens, check out the images below.
With the above average temps that we have been having here in Michigan, the stream ice is about five weeks late, but better late then never. I always look forward to shooting the ice as it is my time to shoot abstracts. I’ve mentioned in the past that the abstract don’t sell, but I like them and it’s just fun being out in the woods.
Here is a nice shot of the stream and how I set up at the edge to shoot. I use my long telephoto macro lens in the 180 range, as it will reach out farther into the stream if I need to.
My camera is the Nikon D7000.
Who is taking the pictures of me? It’s a Panasonic GH2 on a tripod with self timer set at 10 secs.
This first image was shot in the area you see me in above.
If I’m shooting out into the ice a ways, I will be at an angle that sometimes needs a little extra depth of field, so I will set the f-stop at f/16. With all this cool details, you want to get it all in focus.
Last summer I took a three day motorcycle trip throughout southern Utah. I always carry my 5D Mark II, tripod and an assortment of lenses along with my amazing Canon S95, which resides in a pocket in my jacket for easy access. Riding a motorcycle opens your eyes and lets you see things you’d never see in a cage, er…car. You’re not isolated from the environment in a neat little cocoon – you’re in it, surrounded by it, part of it. When it’s hot, you’re hot. When it’s raining, you’re wet. You feel the wind and the heat and the sand in your teeth. It’s an experience unlike any other.
Making images with the 5D Mark II requires digging it out of the tankbag, taking off gloves and helmet, finding a place to safely park the bike and the whole process requires more time and effort than I’m usually willing to expend. All this means I end up using the S95 90% of the time. Such is the case with the photo above.
I decided to take a shot of this colorful fall leaf clutter and use a nice soft feel dreamlike look with Nik Software Color Efex Pro. I started with the “Midnight” filter and then added some “Polaroid Transfer” filter. Then added a Vignette to darken the corners.
Here’s a quick video on how I’ll use a vignette in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro to direct the viewer’s attention in the frame.
Hi, everyone. John Batdorff here, and today I thought we’d process this image of the Great Migration that was shot in the Serengeti earlier this year. What I like about this image is I have the wildebeest here just staring at me dead center of the frame. And so I think we can apply a small vignette to really draw more attention to this image. It appears a little flat in color, but if you look at the histogram and take a look at this dip here, that represents the contrast. And so I think once we convert this out, we’ll have a decent image to work with.
Let’s open this up in Silver Efex Pro, and this is the default conversion. It’s still kind of flat, but we’re going to make a couple quick maneuvers here to bring it to life. Let’s work the structure on the global adjustment. I’m going to increase this and then moving it to the right that’s increasing it. I think I’m going to wind up right around 60, and that works nicely. Now I’m going to increase the highlights a little bit and then the shadows. I think that’s making this image pop pretty well. One thing I want to point out whenever you’re using the structure sliders, if you have a lot of noise in your image, it’s going to bring that to life as well. So, either you work the noise early on and get rid of it early on using Define or Light Rims Noise Reduction, or you deal with that on the back side. I typically deal with it on the back side, but it really depends on the image. This one, if there is a lot of noise, I’ll probably deal with it, like I said, on the back side.
Anyway, I feel pretty good about this image right here. What I’m going to do next is come on down and use the color sliders. I want to get this beard to pop a little bit more, the highlights if you will. So I’m going to use the yellow and increase it. You’ll
Looking for a good quality gear bag that can hold a little bit of everything? Then this bag might be for you!
I stopped by to see my friends at Outdoor Photo Gear the other day and they had just received a shipment of these bags in. While I wasn’t really in the market for a new bag, I couldn’t help but notice the size of this thing and how well made it is (its a Kata –duh). Its billed as a medium sized bag, but this thing looks like it will hold everything but the kitchen sink! So I had to check it out.
Its the Kata KT-OMB-75 One Man Band Bag and I believe it would store everything a one man band could possibly throw in it. Its surrounded by pockets all the way around and on top. The front pocket zips open to reveal a large, flat storage area with smaller, utility style pockets for everything from notebooks, to pens, chords and all sorts of smaller knick-knacks. It also has a flat pocket on each side and another voluminous one on top. On the outside top of the bag, there are straps that can be used to strap on a tripod or light stands.
Editor’s note: Welcome Dan Carr to the blog! Dan spends the winters as a senior photographer for Skier magazine in Canada as well as shooting commercial images for many of the biggest winter sports brands and resorts in the world. In the summer he shoots a range of other commercial and sports photography specializing in motorsports. His work has been featured in more than 50 different publications from Japan to Canada and everywhere in between. Check out his blog with incredible equipment reviews and news here.
Started by world renowned wildlife photographer Andy Biggs, Gura Gear has gathered a strong following from nature and wildlife photographers in the last couple of years with their Kiboko 30L backpack. The Kiboko was designed by Andy specifically to hold large super telephoto lenses during travel and in the field. It’s take a few years but this past Autumn, Gura Gear expanded their lineup to include two new bags; Kiboko 22l and Chobe 19-24L. We’ll be taking a closer look at the new 22L Kiboko in the coming weeks but today I want to give you my thoughts on the new Chobe shoulder bag.
Colorado based photographer Daniel Kelly Brown made this great little animation of the Chobe which is also worth watching.
A nice feature to our digital cameras is the ability to change the white balance and adjust the colors depending on the light source hitting the subject. A color will actually change under various types of lighting, and the camera will make color corrections according to light source. So if you’re shooting in sun light, then you use the sunny mode, and cloudy days, use the cloudy mode, and inside under florescent lighting, use that mode, and so on. I find that my camera’s auto mode works great, and I use it most of the time.
If you shot a subject using the different white balances that your camera offers, you will see a difference in the colors of the subjects. Sometimes I will play with these different modes to see what kind of unusual color I will come up with.
Here is a rose that I shot using three different white balances, and as you will see each one has a different color.
So try this next time and see what different colors you come up with!
Same exact flower, same lighting, three different white balances and three different colors.
Same exact flower, same lighting, three different white balances and three different colors.
You can visit Mike’s blog and learn about his workshops here: Tiny Landscapes
Mike’s eBooks are available in the OPG store here: Mike Moats
Inspired once again by Seth Godin and a recent blog post titled “the difference between a failure and a mistake,” I wondered how I might apply it to nature photography and the issues we all struggle with in our attempt to make successful images. Of course this applies to life in general, as Seth so clearly explains, but I think it provides many paths of exploration for those of us trying to be more creative with our photography.
Cascade Mtn fails on several levels, but mostly for me it lacks a clear path for the viewers eye to travel, which translates to a weak story. A lack of textural contrast makes the image rather busy, and the light in the background competes with the details in the foreground. I was experimenting with trying to omit the sky and horizon in order to create a lack of perspective, but it didn’t quite work out as envisioned.
As a workshop instructor, I work hard on trying to help students get beyond whatever is limiting their potential. Unfortunately the majority of reasons are due to mistakes and less often to failures. My goal is to reverse this and promote failure as a way to learning. Certainly I don’t want students strictly to fail as that would be rather frustrating and demoralizing in the long run. Who wants to come away from a workshop having only failed at their attempts?