Winter = Cold = Clarity!

wintertrees

 Winter, Cold Weather, and Clarity

For clarity in your photos, the cold of winter is one of the best times available! You will consistently get sharper, cleaner-looking outdoor photos in winter than at any other time of the year. Why? Continue reading

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Characteristics of the Best Landscape and Nature Photos

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I’m interested in making the best landscape and nature photos that I possibly can. With that in mind, I thought I would look at two outstanding sites where great photos are displayed and see what the best photos there all have in common. Here’s what I found… Continue reading

Behind the Shot: Ludington Beach

Ludington Michigan on the West coast of Michigan’s lower peninsula is a beautiful lakeside city. Sitting on the shores of Lake Michigan, it attracts visitors who are eager to get away from the cities and towns, and who are looking to enjoy the lake.  This photo was taken on the beach at Ludington, late in the day.

I got down low for this shot because I really wanted to capture that look and feel of a late summer day on the beach. However, the land and sky were hardly cooperating with me! I made do though and here’s how…

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Unfocus for Composition

When setting up for shooting a scene, evaluating your composition can be tricky with all the elements of the scene popping out at you. Try “unfocusing“. I do not mean to un-focus your camera. This has nothing to do with your camera at this point. I mean “unfocus” your view – through your eyes. Continue reading

Color Saturation – What is the limit?

I’m sure you’ve see what you think are “over-saturated” photos — those with too much color. But how much is too much?

The traditional way to judge this is purely subjectively by your own opinion and taste. Maybe you like more saturation or maybe you don’t. Maybe it fits with a particular subject and not with others. There are many variables to this and each needs further explanation and a breakdown. You’ll see, you have some decisions to make and a few tools that will help you: Continue reading

Composition and the Mind – A Modification of the Rule of Thirds

When I go to take a photo of something, I think first about the composition. I go through all of the rules I’ve learned about what looks best to people and where to position each element in the photo. But I’ve often wondered why some of these rules of composition work in the first place.

It really comes down to how we think when we see things, and it is interesting and very helpful to know this when setting up for a shot. Here’s an example… Continue reading

Photo Aspect Ratios and Picture Frames

Sooner or later you’re going to want to print your photos and sell them or show them to others. But what aspect ratios are standard? What if someone wants to print and frame your image later? Are they going to be able to get it to fit a standard frame size? These are the questions you may ask yourself right now.

These are very good questions. Here are some answers. Continue reading

Scouting Shots

Before setting out to shoot some photos, it is always a good idea to scout¹ out some locations that may produce great shots. The idea here is to go and find those spots where a great photo could be taken, so that you can set up and be ready to go when conditions are right and the photo is there for the taking! It is very similar to what good hunters do when they are preparing to hunt their prey.

“But where?”  I’m glad you asked. Here’s some ideas “where” and more importantly here’s “how,” “why”, and “when!” Continue reading

Vignette to Draw the Eye

Why would anyone want to add vignetting to a photo? It is usually something that photographers try to avoid! Lens and filter combinations that produce vignetting can be frustrating to photographers — often resulting in time spent in post-processing software to crop and remove the vignette. Even though vignetting is not always desirable in photos, it can be employed by the skilled photographer to create a “drawing” effect on the viewer. Here’s how . . . Continue reading

Same Location – Different Photos

Isn’t it funny how two people can look at the same thing and see something slightly different? Or maybe even completely different? The same happens in photography. With well-photographed areas and attractions, it is easy to see how the perspective of the photographer comes into play in making the photo! By the end of this post, I hope you will see what I mean…

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Film Grain – Is It Cool?

Film Grain?

I’ve seen plenty of high-end photos with film grain visible in them. If you get right up to them and look, you can see it. I saw it in a Peter Lik photo when I was in on of his galleries in Waikiki and I thought “how could the great Peter Lik allow film grain in his photos?” But I realized shortly after, that great photographers do have film grain in their photos — usually because they shot on film!

So is it cool to have film grain in your photos? The answer is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no”. But, generally yes.

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Panoramic Images From Normal Photos

Consider the panorama next time you take a “normal” photo. Why? Because with some cropping, you can have a panoramic image quite easily and without stitching multiple photos together in specialized software!

With photos of high resolution (high megapixels), cropping the photo to be panoramic does not lose a lot of resolution. I call these types of photos “cropped panoramics.” When taking the photo, you have to have the panoramic image in mind and set up your composition accordingly. But, with some practice, this can be an easy way to get panoramic images into your portfolio without a lot of extra work!

For example: Continue reading

HDR Overdone – Sacrificing Light and Dark

HDR techniques can help photos – even if it is only a single-image RAW file where the HDR technique is applied.  I’ve had success with this in HDR Express, HDR Expose, Photomatix Pro, and Dynamic Photo HDR software. However, HDR can be overdone and this is when a photo goes from looking realistic to totally (or partially) unreal. Here is one major flaw I see in most HDR photos, and even in the ones that are well-done.

Just because HDR can bring out every detail in the shadows and highlights, that doesn’t mean that it is best for a photo. My objective in photography is to use all of the dynamic range possible to faithfully represent what I saw when I was taking the photo. My eyes may be able to make out some detail in the shadows, for example, but that does not mean that I value those details in my overall view. Neither should my photo. Those shadows should remain primarily dark. The same goes for the highlights. Continue reading

Analyzing Photos Taken by the “Masters”

How can you tell if you are making your photographs look as good as the “masters” in the field of photography? One way is to do an analysis of their images using Lightroom or similar software. I used Lightroom for this example.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I captured a photo from the “master” artist/photographer that I wanted to emulate.  I chose Peter Lik for this example because he is a great landscape photographer in my opinion. Here is a copy of one of his most beautiful photos from his website. You should choose whomever you want based on who’s works you find the best and whom you want to be most like in making your own. When doing this, don’t feel that you have to get full-size images. I took mine from his site at a low resolution and low size. This works just fine. Continue reading