June 7th, 2010
by Jerry Monkman
Near the Appalachian Trail in Maine.
I spent two days backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in May. It was my first time spending a night in the backcountry this year, and it felt great to be out. The smell of balsam fir was intense along this section of trail, conjuring all kinds of great memories of hikes past. I was working on a project that has great potential.
June 4th, 2010
by Bret Edge
There was a time, many years ago, when my world revolved around being an outdoor athlete. I was a rock climber, trail runner, backpacker, mountain biker, long distance hiker, canyoneer, and kayaker. Sometimes I would combine them all when doing adventure races. I spent most of my free time training. I was obsessed with going far and getting there fast. I spent a lot of time in the outdoors, but it went by so quickly that I rarely had a moment to enjoy a sunset or notice the coyote yipping in the distance.
And then it happened. I fell in love with nature photography. I gave up adventure racing. I spent more time photographing and less time training. I stopped counting miles traveled each week and started counting rolls of film exposed. Everything just sort of slowed down.
Looking back I realize that photography has taught me some valuable lessons. I’ve learned that when you don’t train on a daily basis the size of your waistband increases. Actually, I’ll blame that on age. More importantly, I’ve learned a few things that are helpful to me as a member of the human race and I think they’ve made me a better husband, brother, friend and an all-around better person.
June 3rd, 2010
by Rick Sammon
Photograph © Rick Sammon. All rights reserved.
Here are some quick tips for portrait shooters. Enjoy
- Make a photograph — don’t simply take one. Work with the subject, props, posing and lighting to create a unique image.
- The name of the game is to fill the frame. In other words, crop out the boring stuff in a scene so that the viewer’s attention is drawn to the main subject — immediately.
- Crop creatively. More often than not, a picture can be enhanced with basic cropping in the digital darkroom. Experiment with different crops. Also try to see pictures within a picture.
- Remember that light illuminates; shadows define. That is the first step to lighting a portrait.
- Carefully light the scene. In this case, I used a combination of available light and the light from a flash to create a well-lit portrait.
- Choose your lens wisely. Think about how the focal length and f-stop will affect the end result. Use at least a medium telephoto lens (85mm) for head and shoulder shot. Wider-angle lenses are okay for environmental portraits (like this one).
- Carefully pose your subject. Pay special attention to where the subject is looking (toward or away from the camera). Also pay attention to the hands.
- Shoot RAW files because they are more forgiving than JPEG files – and because you can rescue more from overexposed highlight areas than you can from JPEG files.
- Use the lowest possible ISO for the cleanest (little or no noise) possible shot.
- Don’t over saturate an image in Photoshop (or Aperture or Lightroom or anywhere.) When areas of an image are oversaturated, details can be softened and lost. If the reds here had been over saturated, the detail and the folds in the dress could have been lost.
- Think selectively. Apply adjustments (especially sharpening) to select areas of an image rather than applying them globally (to the entire image).
- Always sharpen an image as the final step – before you save your file as a TIFF file or PSD files with all those adjustment layers (just in case you change your mind about how you enhanced your image.)
Explore the light,
Keep up with Rick at the Digital Photo Experience.
June 1st, 2010
by Paul Burwell
The other day I started to think about things people have innocently said to me about my photography that have annoyed me. Now, I know that most of the comments were meant without any malice and were well intentioned. I get that. But, that doesn’t stop them from bothering the heck out of me. I’ve taken the liberty of compiling the top offending comments into a top ten list, presented in the traditional descending order for your reading pleasure. I also decided to annotate each of the comments with my own thoughts which would not normally remain safely ensconced in my brain.
|10. Will you photograph my wedding?
- Okay, I know that I should take this as a compliment. But unless the bride and groom are going to wallow through a swamp on all fours, count me out. Brides and their mothers scare me more than coming face-to-face with a mother bear and her cubs while hiking.
Female Black Bear and her cubs walking on a trail
|9. Why can’t I get pictures like that with my cell phone?
- Hmmmmmm. Tough one. Could it be that the miniscule image sensor and cheap piece of plastic they call a lens can’t quite compete with quality glass and the resolving power of the sensors in modern digital SLR cameras?
|8. Digital is okay I guess, but it’s too bad it doesn’t have the quality of film
- Hello? 1995 called and they want their camera back. Seriously, the quality of digital cameras surpassed film several years ago. Seriously.
Northern Pintail flying over a golden pond
May 31st, 2010
by Rick Sammon
Photographs © Rick Sammon
Canon 15mm lens (above). Canon 24-105mm lens (below).
Both: Canon 5D Mark II.
Last month my photography workshop brought us to the Sister’s Meal Festival in a remote area of China. It’s truly an amazing experience: hundreds of women get dressed in heavy silver and cloth outfits and perform a dance in the hope of attracting a husband.
The outfits weigh more than 40 pounds. Dancing in the hot sun for hours can’t be fun.
Anyway, the light was bad: harsh, direct sunlight. Adding to the challenge, the silver head dresses reflected the bright light, and the subject’s faces were shaded by the headdresses. Aaargh!