Take Better Sunrise and Sunset Photos

Sunrise and sunset photos are among the most photographed things in the world. It is a natural thing for anyone to shoot these because they are spectacular. But I see a lot of sunrise and sunset photos that are poorly exposed or just shot wrong. Here’s an easy way to shoot them. Continue reading

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Why Shooting Landscapes and Nature is Better at f/11 or Less

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Shot at 8mm, f/5.6 on an APS-C camera. The focal point was about 1/3 of the way into the frame at a point about 30 feet from the camera on the green grass where it meets the road.

Almost everything you will read will tell you that to have a great looking landscape shot it has to be sharp from front to back, and you have to shoot at f/16 or f/22 to get that.

Not true.

That is not how it works in the real world with your eyes, and it is not how a camera or lens should be used either. I’ll break this down and destroy this myth. Continue reading

Review: The Sigma 8-16 mm Lens is Excellent for Landscapes

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Sigma’s 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens is the widest rectilinear lens made for APS-C sized cameras. This is the 35 mm equivalent of 12-24 mm. If sweeping landscape shots and front-interest images with tremendous depth are your things, then you’re going to love this lens.

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Storm Light

What is “Storm Light?”

“Storm light” is a special kind of outdoor lighting that occurs usually just after a storm has passed. The atmosphere is usually full of small particles of dust, rain, and ice, and this creates a unique coloration of the sky and land. It is one of the best, most difficult, most dangerous, and rarest of times to shoot landscape photos. Continue reading

Printing and Displaying Photos Like Peter Lik

My photo of the entrance to The Peter Lik Gallery in Key West Florida just before I went inside.

Peter Lik is an amazing landscape photographer, and I’ve admired his work for years. I’ve  been to his art galleries in Hawaii and Key West Florida, and the things that make his photos stand out to me are how he displays his work and how he prints them. I’ve studied his work and here’s what I’ve learned:

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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

How to Photograph Flowing Water

Click to ViewWhat’s the correct way to photograph flowing water (waterfalls, streams, oceans, etc.)? It turns out there is no correct way – it depends on who you are and what you like!

In my photographs, I like to show what it would look like if I were actually right there looking at it. I want realism. I like that. So I usually shoot water so I can see almost every drop and ripple – a snapshot in time just as if I were there. But, that’s me.

The overwhelming majority of people like to see water as a blurred, fuzziness without drops or ripples. I’ve heard it termed “silky” or “flowing.”

No problem, I’ll show you how to do both:

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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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Realism in a Photo

The sun is bright and when you look toward it, your eyes can’t see any detail in it. It is “blown out” in your eyes. Is this any surprise? No. Shocking information? No. Well then why do we as photographers complain when our photos show the sun as a feature-less blown-out highlight? It is, after all, what you would have seen had you been standing there behind the camera isn’t it? Of course it is.

Let’s say you’re standing in a dark ravine looking up with dark rocky outcroppings all around, but a bright sun shining above. Do your eyes see detail in the shadows? Of course not. Surprising? No. Something wrong with your eyes? No. It’s a high-contrast scene and this is what your actually seeing. So why do we as photographers when we look at the photo later, feel as if we’ve failed somehow because the shadows in our photo are black without much detail. It was, after all, exactly what we saw when we were there.

How well can you see details on the horizon? Are treelines perfectly clear to you? No. What about the haze in the air. Do those distant tress or mountains look perfectly clear? No. Could they be a little out of focus to your eyes? Sure. When we get behind the lens though, we want everything to be sharp and clear – but clearly not how we actually saw it. Why?

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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