Over the years I’ve received much great advice that has contributed significantly to my growth as a photographer. While guiding a photographer last week who was only bitten by the photo bug a few months ago, I offered a simple piece of advice: “Sweep the edges of your viewfinder before making an exposure.” It was something I learned ten years ago while reading a “how-to” book published by Arizona Highways. At the end of the day I was happy to hear her say that she learned more during our few hours together than she had in several months on her own. I always find it rewarding to help other photographers learn and grow as artists.
On the drive home I began to reminisce about all the little nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned in the past eleven years. Some came from books, others from magazines and even more from other photographers. Regardless of their origin, each one has benefitted me in some way. Like many of you, I never want to stop learning. No doubt, the advice below is only the beginning of what will surely be an even longer list in another eleven years.
Finding Character In Nature is an e-book for the macro photographer that will help change the way you think the next time you go out to shoot.
The word character is often used to describe a person who is a little different from the general population. People who dress in a flamboyant manner or act differently have a unique style stand out in a crowd and are noticed by others. Photographic portraits often reveal a person’s individual character in the irregular features of their face and body. In the same way, photographic images can also highlight the distinctive qualities of subjects in nature. Finding the features that reveal the unique character of a flower, leaf, rock, or pattern in the earth will cause your images to stand out as distinctive artistic expressions of the natural world.
It’s easy to do, and you will learn how in this 43 page e-book.
Being nature photographers gives us access to things most people will never see and experiences many will never understand. A brief exchange about such things with two other photographers on twitter led me to ponder on this for a while. I came up with eight things I love about being a nature photographer. I know there are more, and I’m sure you’ll all have some excellent additions to the list.
1. Seeing the natural world around me in a more intimate way than those whose eyes don’t appreciate the nuances of light, texture, shadow and form.
2. Sunrises and sunsets in the mountains, canyons and deserts. Nuff said.
3. Being able to share the visual beauty of those sunrises and sunsets with those who weren’t able to enjoy the moment with me.
4. Getting excited when I hear a good storm is headed my way.
5. Sitting alone, in the middle of the most beautiful nowhere anyone has ever seen, watching shadows lengthen and waiting for those few glorious moments when the light is just right for making an image.
6. Knowing where and when to find the best wildflowers, the best fall colors, the best waterfalls, the best mountain views, the best alpine lakes, the best wildlife, the best…ah, you get the point.
7. Meeting all the really amazing people I never would have met if I hadn’t been addicted to nature photography.
8. All the amazing places I’ve been that I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t on the prowl for new and exciting locations to photograph.
So, there’s my list. I’d love to hear some things you love about being a nature photographer. Feel free to list ‘em in the comments below!
Learn more about Bret, view his images, scout his workshops and read his blog here.
Bursting on to the scene of professional nature photographers just a few short years ago, Canadian born nature photographer Glenn Bartley has quickly established a reputation as one of the best bird photographers on the market. With books, articles, workshops and of course wonderful images, Glenn stays busy pursuing his career in nature photography.
Glenn has been enchanted by nature and wildlife for as long as he can remember. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, Glenn, like many of us, spent many hours with National Geographic magazine and natural history books. Glenn's favorite TV show at the time was David Suzuki's "The Nature of Things". Glenn says "It may have all started in the backyard of my childhood home. I'd spend hour after hour lying underneath a hummingbird feeder trying to capture an image of one of these amazing birds with a simple point and shoot camera".
Glenn obtained his first “real” camera in college….A Canon Elan 7 film SLR.
In college, Glenn had an incredible extended travel opportunity. He took part in an exchange program that had him swapping places with a student from Brisbane, Australia.
Continuing my love affair with my wonderful Canon S95 camera, I toted it with me to Goblin Valley State Park for a photo assignment I’d managed to win from Utah State Parks & Recreation. Not only did they ask for scenes from Goblin Valley, which is an absolutely awesome little park, but they also wanted photographs of the surrounding area. So, I did what I do best – I wandered. At a point in my roaming I observed this interesting feature in the sandstone. I grabbed my trusty S95 and hiked a short distance to it for a closer look.
I have absolutely no idea what causes this lightning like pattern in the sandstone. I suspect it to be caused by water cascading down the rock, creating a sort of reverse desert varnish. Regardless, I immediately envisioned it as a high contrast black and white abstract image and went to work composing a photograph on the S95’s LCD screen. Back home I converted the color image to monochrome in Photoshop CS5 using Nik Silver Efex Pro. I then used several curves and levels layers to make the “lightning” pop, as well as Nik Color Efex Pro and Viveza 2 for some finishing touches. Lastly, I used a little black magic in the form of Photoshop’s “Content Aware Fill” to remove some distracting blemishes from the rock.
Whatcha think? If you know what causes this pattern I’d really appreciate an explanation, too!
Learn more about Bret, view his images, scout his workshops and read his blog here.
I see lots of photographs of this simple Gerbera Flower, and I will say it is one of my favorites to shoot during the winter when I’m doing all my indoor shooting.
To many images made with flowers are shot from the front side, with little imagination. A flower has so many different angles that you have to explore all the possibilities.
Here is the typical frontal shot, and rather then place the flowers center in the middle of the frame like you see most photographers do, I’ve offset the center of the flower in the lower left corner. Because every part of this view has interesting designs I want everything in focus, so I set my f/stop as the highest number at f/22.
The next shot is also a frontal shot but I moved in closer and only included a quarter view of the flower center by placing it in the lower right side and making the image as a horizontal. Again I’ve set my f/stop at f/22 to bring the whole flower in focus.
There's a new softbox for speedlights on the market called the Lumiquest LTp! Lumiquest has long been making cool modifiers for speedlights, including my previous favorite, the Softbox III. Based on how popular the SBIII is, Lumiquest came out with another softbox for speedlights, but this time its bigger, and as we all know, bigger is better, right?
Lumiquest's new softbox is roughly twice the size of the SBIII. At 10" x 14" the LTp creates a nice, soft light source for hand held portraits. However, this softbox is just not limited to hand held portraits, it can be used for a myriad of lighting solutions including a hair light, a kicker light, a fill light and it works excellently for product photography. It eats up about the same amount of light as the SBIII, which is a little more than one full stop of light.
In this first portrait, I used the LTp on a Nikon SB-800 hand held to camera left. This image is straight out of camera with no editing except to crop and resize for the web. You can see that this softbox gives a nice, soft quality of light (click on it for a larger view). It's not quite as soft as a larger softbox or shoot-thru umbrella, but for a compact softbox that can be hand held and packed away in almost any camera bag, its gives awesome results! The light from this softbox is kinda 'punchy' and soft at the same time, similar to that of a beauty dish.
If you have ever wanted to make selective adjustments to your images but have been unsure how – this video is for you! Understanding how to creatively use layer masking can really open up a lot of new doors to photographers in the digital darkroom. This video just scratches the surface of what can be done. But I hope it will be easy to understand and be a good start. Enjoy!
Learn more about Glenn, check out his images, books and workshops here.
Continuing my post from yesterday, here's a look at some more rock slabs.
I recently purchased this great looking Laguna Lace Agate Slab. It’s always fun searching for interesting patterns in these slabs. I shot this with the standard 1:1 60mm Tamron macro lens, but will be exploring into tiny areas as I add on my extension tubes.
This is the slab I started with
Check out both sides if you buy any slabs, as the patterns vary on each side.
Lots of fun with these rock slabs!
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