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Landscape Photography Tips

A vision and a camera

From Frank Siteman/ DPA instructor in Boston To view more of his images please visit  http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/frank-siteman/ Sometimes, quite often as it turns out, great photos are no further from your front door than your front porch.  This image is an example of that.  No need to travel to a distant land or even get in the car to chase light.  I did have to put on a serious coat and go outdoors though, but once there, all I needed was a vision and a camera.  To give this image the feeling of the day, I selected a tungsten color balance, which gave the chilling blue color-cast to the snow.  The contrast between the on-coming car’s headlamps and that blueish snow make the vehicle pop from the photo.  I actually enhanced the lights with NIK software, darkening and warming them, and used another NIK filter to add a cool glow to the overall image. One important technical aspect of shooting in the cold and/or snow is to keep your equipment (and yourself) warm and dry.  I made a plastic covering for the camera with an opening just large enough to poke a lens hood through.  When not actually shooting, I kept this opening pinned against my body which prevented any snowflakes from landing on either the camera or the lens. IF I’d stayed out longer, I would have kept the camera under my coat, not just for protection, but to keep the battery warm.  Shooting in the cold can suck the life out of your battery in a very short time.  To address that, I always keep an extra battery in an inside pocket, next to my body, and switch it out with the battery in the camera which is continually chilling as I work.  For extended shoots outdoors, I hold a Hothands Hand Warmer outside the camera’s battery compartment.  Along with keeping my battery active, I end up having at least one warm hand as well.  Another win-win. Camera was Canon 5D, ISO 100, 1/60th sec,  24-105 IS lens at f/5.6, shot at 105mm.


Wondrous light

 From Frank Siteman/ DPA instructor in Boston To view more of his images please visit http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/frank-siteman/ In the quest for great images, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking advantage of the exceptional quality of light in the early morning and late afternoon hours of the day. At this time, the light has a direction and a warmth that only happens when the sun is low on the horizon. I call it chasing light.  To this end, I try to find where the beautiful light is falling and nearly never come back without some image that is exceptional just because it was shot in wonderous light.  I have a friend from New York City who tells me he never has problems parking in the city.  What he does is simple.  He finds a parking spot, takes it and then finds something to do around it.  Chasing light is like that, and what you find around your spot is often magical. This image was taken late in the afternoon in Bethlehem, NH, found while driving down roads I’d never been on before.  It was all discovery.  This tree lined driveway (to what will remain a mysterious destination) is a nearly perfect example of both leading lines and the rule of thirds.  Everything takes your eye into the depths of this image.  The road’s curved sides are nearly mirror images of each other as are the trees themselves.  All lines lead to a point 1/3rd down from the top and roughly 1/3rd in from the right.


Color balance

    From Frank Siteman/ DPA Boston Instructor To view more please visit  http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/frank-siteman/ Siteman says, "This image was made while I was working on a motion picture in woodstock, VT in the late spring. One of my assignments was to shoot footage for the opening sequence and to scout locations. Driving around snow covered muddy roads was a challenge, but finding beauty in the early morning was anything but. I found this house, enveloped by a wet sticky snow, before 5AM and being the only vehicle out at that time… and a stranger to boot, drew attention. It was just what was needed to create a human touch to offset the cold and somewhat forbidding environment. Daylight color balance assured the light from the inside of the home would be very warm and since the sun was hours away from rising, the daylight, like the day itself, remained a very cool blue. This intense contrast of those complimentary colors, as well as the web of snow covered tree limbs, worked well to create an atmosphere of intrigue. This image, with the person peering from behind a curtain, presents an unknown story and in doing so, maintains interest for the viewer. Who’s looking at whom?" Using a 20mm wide angle lens, I was able to hand-hold my camera for a 1/30th sec exposure at f/4, ISO 100.


Your Point and Shoot Camera ñ Quick Fixes for Crooked Horizons

Quick Fix for Crooked Horizons We have all shot those crooked horizon landscape shots, Sometimes when you’re forced to us a slow shutter speed, you’re holding the camera steady, or resting it on a ledge or railing ... The support is crooked. It happens all the time. More commonly many people don’t even notice a crooked horizon, when they shoot or even later when they view the photos. Me? ... It’s the first thing I notice, it jumps out at me like a flash of light. Fortunately there are a couple of easy remedies. One in-camera and one in post production. The in-camera fix necessitates you level up the camera before taking the photo. This is much easier to do if you select the GRID viewfinder available in your camera menu. You’ll need to check your particular camera to see if this is a feature but in Panasonic cameras this is found in the Tools Menu. Look for the Wrench or Custom Wrench icon in the menu and find Guide Line, then just turn it on (Guide lines will NOT show up in your photos). Using this feature to straighten a horizon is a easy way to make you photos look cleaner and more professional. If you find it distracting for non-landscape photos you just turn it off, either by hitting the display button, or going back into the menu. Alternatively, to fix the horizon of a photo you’ve already shot you can perform an easy repair in Photoshop. Go into the tools menu and find the ruler tool. Draw a line along the crooked horizon. Then go into the Image Menu, Select Image Rotation, Arbitrary, then click OK. That’s it ... Your horizon is now level. Photos by DPA student Henry Cohen, Instructor Rick Gerrity, NJ and NY Henry’s great photo from a memorable vacation shows a slight tilt in the horizon. Select the Ruler tool and draw a line following the crooked horizon. In tools menu find the ruler tool. Draw a line along the crooked horizon. In the Image Menu, Select Image Rotation, Arbitrary. Click OK and the software straightens the horizon. You always lose a little around the edges of the photo when the leveling correction is applied. Select the Crop tool to cut this off and hit enter to crop. Photos by DPA student Henry Cohen, Instructor Rick Gerrity, NJ and NY. Top photo is with crooked horizon repaired. Bottom photo is enhanced with NIK Viveza 2 software. The final repaired photo above looks cleaner and the horizon is no longer a distraction. For display during the webinar John added a little structure to Henry’s photo using NIK Viveza 2 to sharpen up the image, adding some crispness to make it more legible. A quick painless fix transforming a snapshot to a beautiful photographic memory, a keeper. Webinar Submission Specs: All DPA students can submit photographs for inclusion in the Digital Photo Academy, LiHD Webinar, Online Photo Class Series. If you would like to submit your photographs for an upcoming webinar, read the following. Each webinar has a specific theme or topic. You can see the date and topic of the next webinar at LivinginHD.com, Tip of the Day, Online Photo Class. Note that webinars are edited and formatted days in advance, thus please submit your photos at least a week in advance of the webinar, late submissions can not be added. Photographs are chosen, and edited, for their applicability to the webinar theme, artistic and technical merit, and content length. If your photograph is NOT chosen, it will be archived and may appear in a more appropriate future webinar. Submit your photographs to info@digitalphotoacademy.com By submitting your photographs for consideration, you grant and authorize, The Digital Photo Academy, LivinginHD.com and Panasonic, the following rights: The right to use your photographs in the content and promotion of the webinar series, and for use on each company’s respective website. You further authorize your photographs may be archived online and/or in a database, and allow unrestricted internet availability of any webinars containing your photographs. You further authorize the use of your photographs in any future webinars. By voluntarily submitting your photographs for consideration you agree to the aforementioned without any legal claims, or claims for remuneration, whatsoever. You, as the photographer, retain the copyright © of any submitted photographs. The aforementioned companies will make best possible efforts to apply proper photo credit and acknowledgement with your photograph whenever possible and practical.  


Flowers Webinar – Resizing Images, Scaling images for Large Prints and Reproductions

Flowers Webinar Photo Tip 4 – Resizing Images, Scaling Images up for Large Prints and Reproductions Flower and Flora Photography and NIK Image Enhancement Webinar John Bentham Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on LivinginHD.com. Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions, answers and tips are posted here on digitalphotoacademy.com where you can also view the archived webinars. Very often a pretty picture of a flower will become a beautiful landscape when enlarged to poster size or even bigger. There are a few tips you can use when sizing your images to avoid losing detail in the process. The tips below apply regardless of whether you are printing from your own large scale desktop printer or uploading online to a printer and poster fulfillment service. Photo by Christian Michaels, DPA Instructor San Diego The 1960s color field paintings of Mark Rothko on first inspection appear as simple constructions comprised of basic graphic elements, bands and patches of color layered on a canvas. It is only after closer inspection and study that the complexities of these priceless artworks become evident. Much like Rothko’s paintings the multilayered banded fields of flowers in Chris Michaels photo above appear as an abstract expressionist painting, the individual elements being less important than the whole. When you imagine Chris’s photo enlarged to a Rothko sized 60 x 80 inches it takes on not just monumental proportions literally but heightened significance figuratively as well. When re-sizing your images for large scale reproduction you can make color, structure, contrast and exposure corrections using NIK software before your resizing method but its also a good practice to re-visit the file after the enlargement. Very often once you enlarge an image there are many details that come out that were not visible or apparent before. These areas can be further enhanced with NIK Software and any imperfections can be touched up using Photoshop. Photos by John Bentham, DPA Instructor New York Compare the two versions of the photo above shot by New York DPA instructor John Bentham. The top image is the original file, shot straight to jpeg on a relatively low resolution camera (8MP). The bottom image has been enhanced using Viveza 2 and Color Effects Pro from NIK Software. You can see a significant difference in detail, structure, contrast and legibility in the lower image.  By applying some of the tricks in NIK software and following a step up procedure in enlarging the image John was able to produce a 20 x 30 inch print with great detail. Photo by Chuck Place, DPA Instructor Los Angeles The beautiful, almost magical landscape photo above shot by Chuck Place, a DPA instructor in Los Angeles is a great of example of a photo with great Depth of Field, meaning objects in the foreground, middle ground and background appear in focus. By shooting at a relatively small aperture Chuck has captured this wide range of focus giving the photograph visual depth draws your eye into the scene. This is exactly the type of detail you want to preserve in your prints, especially in large scale reproductions. Photo by Steve Dunwell, DPA Instructor Boston The tulip photo above shot by Boston DPA instructor Steve Dunwell is a great example of a flora photograph that would look spectacular enlarged to a grand scale, much larger than life size. When flowers are blown up to 20 x 30, or 30 x 40 inches they become majestic images, almost spiritual, reminiscent of Georgia O Keefe paintings. Steves tulip photo reproduced on such a grand scale would become more than the flowers themselves, becoming more about the colors and patterns, almost a graphic representation of flowers. Step-Up Sizing Process: Beginning with the image created by your camera you are looking for a larger quality and higher resolution file jpeg to use as your source file for printing. Depending on your camera the default output resolution will be displayed as dpi (dots per inch). 300dpi, 72 dpi, 180dpi are all common default sizes but this size is set by the manufacturer. The resolution size (dpi) is also accompanied by an image sixe, height and width dimensions either in pixels or inches. For example a particular camera might generate an image of 10 x 15 inches at 300 dpi, while another manufacturers camera may generate an image at 72dpi with dimensions of 38 x 54 inches. These numbers will also be determined by the capture resolution of your camera, how many Mega Pixels your camera can record. Regardless of the default size after capture an image can changed and stepped-up in size with image software (Photoshop) to produce a high quality, high resolution print. Most often people make one blunt change in image size, changing the size to 20 inch at 72dpi which results in a small file. Or they size up without steps in between resulting in a loss of image quality. To size correctly with very little, if any image loss follow the procedure below. If you are starting with a 72dpi file (native resolution for many cameras) at approx 38 x 54 inches. Most people assume because they are at 72dpi these are small.  This is a very large file at approx 40+MB. To alter the size to a larger or printable version you need to make size changes in steps. To make a 300 dpi file at 16 x 20 inches, suitable for printing follow steps below: Starting with 72 dpi, 69 x 46 inch file. Make a copy of file (DO NOT work on the original). Using Image software (Photoshop) open the copy image size Then open the image size box (Option+Command Letter I on a Mac using Photoshop) See document size boxes for Width, Height & Resolution Make sure the constrain proportions box is checked ON Change Width to 60 inch, Height will change in proportion (to 40) Change resolution to 100 dpi Hit OK Then follow the same steps each time in-putting the following specs. Between each step you need to re-open image size box. You do NOT need to Save file each time, just make sure to SAVE at the end of the step-up process. Change Width to 50 inches, Change resolution to 150, Click OK. The Height will default to the corresponding dimension provided the Restrain Proportions Box is checked. Change Width to 40 inches, Change resolution to 175, Click OK. Change Width to 30 inches, Change resolution to 200, Click OK. Change Width to 25 inches, Change resolution to 250, Click OK. Change Width to 20 inches (Height will default to 13.334 inches), Change resolution to 300, Click OK. Enter SAVE command You now have a hi res file at 300 dpi, 20 x 13.3 inches. File size will be a very high 68MB (approx). With this method you can start with an image form a relatively small 8MB camera and produce a 40 x 60 inch print without too much loss of detail. Depending on your camera and the image size you are starting with you will need to adjust the step up sizes accordingly. If you are beginning with a file already at 300 dpi you don’t make any changes to the resolution size you simply size up (or down) the dimensions gradually to get to your desired finished print size.


Rethinking your angles

© Joe Robbins   Go for the unusual angle.  Looking up, with a silhouette effect is not the normal way to see these structures and can make your subject stand out.  Walk all around looking for every angle.  Come back at the opposite time of day and look for new shots that did not appear in the other time of day.   © Joe Robbins


Landscapes in Black & White

© Alex Lippisch Having grown up here in Ohio, I am visually drawn to old barns and farm landscapes like this one. A 70 mm lens on my 35 mm full-frame camera, allowed me to capture the wide expanse, but more importantly it gave me the right amount of perspective to create the look I was after. The size relationship between the corn in the foreground and the barn is slightly exaggerated and, for me, interesting as a contrast. The large amount of sky and corn field, sets up an engaging negative space as well. Since the sensor in digital cameras captures a 3 channel color image, I always use the camera′s color mode (instead of the B&W mode) and save it as a RAW file. For this image I made the conversion to B&W in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw). ACR has an incredible selection of adjustment options for how to process a RAW file to B&W (otherwise known as grayscale). I used the Hue and Saturation sliders to darken the sky and barn surfaces, and lighten the corn, for an almost infrared photo look common back in the days of shooting infrared film. Other ACR adjustments were made to the contrast, brightness, and sharpness of the final image.


Rustic and Rusty

© Rick Wright Yes, I admit it, I am a sucker for these rustic country-road scenes with rusty trucks. Photography almost seems tailor made for such moments, doesn′t it? On the day I spotted this old International Harvester dump truck (note the logo at top center), it was overcast with diffuse light. Diffuse light in this scene is a real gift as the bright "IH" logo, wheel rims, and glass headlamps don′t get blown out by contrasty sunlight. I left my ISO at 100 and shot at ƒ4.0 for a little depth of field to capture both the tires and truck grill. At ISO 100 I would get all the detail possible and could keep the rubbery looking texture of the tires. The downside? I was hand-holding the shot at 1/20th second. To help out there, go ahead and flip on your self-timer and let the camera itself release the shutter for you. Less vibration! Calm your nerves, breathe out, click! Oh, and about that composition...well, I seized on the idea of getting in really tight and making a play of all those circles and their relationships: orange hazards, white headlamps, black tires, metal rims.


Scale is Everything

© Allen Birnbach One of the most challenging parts of shooting on location is giving a sense of what you were feeling when you first got the idea to shoot a particular scene.  For me, scale relationship is a key ingredient in that. In composing the image, I think about the elements that made me stop the car.  Here, it was the aged barn, lost in the vastness of the American West.  So rather than zoom in on the building, remarkable as it was, I made it relatively small in the frame relative to what was around it. That scale relationship in respect to the mountains and sky to give a sense of place I wanted to convey. When shooting scenics, keep this idea of scale, along with rule of thirds, and keep it simple in mind.


Architecture & the Sweet Light

© Russ Burden While most subjects look better when shot in the sweet light of sunrise or sunset, some benefit more than others - think architecture. Whether it’s a high rise skyscraper, a country barn, or even your own home, photographing them in golden light makes them appear more striking and dimensional. So set your alarm clock early enough to be where you want just as the early light kisses it. Or reconcile that you’ll be a bit late for dinner when you photograph the structure of your choice as the sun descends close to the horizon. Mid Day Blues: Shooting architecture in mid day light has drawbacks. The color of the light is very blue. This creates a very cool tone that lacks impact. In the warm light of sunrise and sunset a much more golden tone is imparted producing a soothing effect. Additionally, mid day light illuminates the building from the top. This results in contrasty and harsh light which tends to blow out bright areas of the building and blocks up the dark areas revealing little or no shadow detail. When the sun is low, texture is revealed producing a more three dimensional look to the subject. This is caused by the sidelight that rakes across the raised portions of the structure. Stonework and intricate details are revealed with more depth. Expose for the highlights to make sure you don’t lose detail in them. Better yet, shoot with the intent of processing the image using HDR to reveal more detail in the shadows while maintaining the highlights. For a bit of added drama to the background, listen to the weather and plan the shoot for a day that calls for partial clouds in the AM or PM. Golden yellow clouds with vibrant reds and oranges will dramatically offset the building against the sky. Blue sky days also work well if you prefer a neutral  backdrop. Try to choose buildings that don’t have clutter to the left, right, or behind them. A distracting background will confuse the viewer as to where he or she should rest their eyes. The simpler the composition, the easier it is to communicate the intent of the photo. Watch how the shadows and highlights play upon the building. Some result in a better image shot at sunrise while others are better at sunset. So pick a building and go out and capture it in early and late light to create a magnificent architectural photo.  


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