To the soft sweet music of the forest the water shall dance.
To the soft sweet music of the forest the water shall dance.
Remember that guy who said he’d never photograph people?
Well we had to fire him.
Turns out he(okay, it was me) didn’t know what I was missing and just how much fun photographing people can be. Not to mention the challenge of stepping WAAAY outside of my normal comfort zone and photographing a subject that talks back!
Let me tell you, landscapes are easy when compared to photographing people. I don’t need to know anything about posing, the light I’m given by the sun is, like it or not, the light I have to work with. And if I botch a photograph of a waterfall that waterfall isn’t going to judge.
But those challenges have also been the unexpected fun of it all.
My first engagement session was a lot of “fun.” And by “fun” I mean I was a nervous wreck. Being paid by someone to take photos of them, the whole time trying to capture the love they share, adds a whole new meaning the the term “performance anxiety!”
By the end of the session I was much more at ease than when things started out, with both myself and my very patient clients being quite happy with the photos.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
Getting my lovely wife in front of the camera was a tough sell, but she finally caved in.
I’ve been reading everything I can and watching pretty much any video I can find on using off camera lighting, but all that knowledge was useless without being able to put it to the test on a real person. Thanks, Sweety!
All in all I think I just might be getting the hang of this whole people thing.
And for those of you wondering what the heck is going on around here, where are those beautiful landscape photos? I’ll leave you with this, just so you know I haven’t completely lost my photographic mind!😉
Normally when out photographing I focus on expansive landscapes, grand scenic views of the dramatic views in the mountains and along the coast of New Hampshire.
On my last outing to the north country I chose to make images with a more limited view. Instead of wide open spaces, the majority of what I captured were elements within the wider scene. What caught my eye were the small details, the textures, the way light and shadow played across an abandoned barn or the rusted machinery.
Surprisingly, I didn’t set out with the mindset that “I’m only going to photograph details, closeups, and black and white images today.”
But that’s exactly what happened. In fact for the most part, wherever I went my eye was drawn to the little details, no matter how nice the overall scene looked it was the little things that caught my eye.
Part of the explanation is my recent feeling that I’ve been missing something, creatively speaking, in my photography. Focusing solely on landscape photography with an eye towards the grand, has been richly rewarding both creatively and financially, lately however that hasn’t been enough. The feeling that I’ve been missing something may have been what triggered my eye for the intimate on this particular day.
I know it is the driving force behind my current interest in portrait photography.(Stay tuned for an upcoming post on that bit of shocking divergence from my past, “I’ll never photograph people,” way of thinking).
The next time you’re out photographing, remember the most compelling photographs are often found while isolating the elements of the scene within the scene. You never know what, or who might be looking back at you.
In landscape photography no matter how beautiful the scenery being photographed, having a dramatic and vibrant sky can be the difference between a so-so and a So Good! photograph.
Forget about clear skies.
For the most dramatic skies with the most vibrant colors you need clouds. Not just a few little wisps of clouds either, you need enough clouds in the sky to capture the fiery light of the rising sun.
The down side to chasing vibrant, dramatic skies like in these photos is quite often I come away with nothing.
Let me explain.
When chasing vibrant sky I pay close attention to the weather and incoming/outgoing weather fronts. Living on the east coast of the U.S. I look for passing storm fronts that are moving out over the ocean around sunrise, my hope being that the sun, or at least some of its glowing light, will reach the distant horizon before the leading edge of the storm does. If all goes as I hope I may come away with photos filled with beautiful scenery and vibrant fiery sky.
All doesn’t always go as planned though. In fact I would have to say that I have lost my gamble with the weather more often than I have won. Sometimes the clouds beat the sun to the horizon, dashing any hopes of a colorfully vibrant sky, and the times the forecast is wrong and the clouds or storm passes leaving me with clear blue, and rather boring to my taste, sky.
However when I do get lucky and win, I often win big with skies like the ones seen in the accompanying images.
Tips and tools for capturing your own vibrant sky.
1 – Get an alarm clock and use it! You’re going to need to get out of bed early, very early depending on how far you are from your chosen destination. I plan to be on location at least 30 minutes prior to actual sunrise. Some of the most dramatic light you’ll capture happens well before the sun actually peeks over the horizon, and there’s nothing worse than watching that glorious color materialize, and subsequently disappear, while you’re still in your car.
2 – Be set up and ready. Weather fronts can pass quickly giving you a very small window of opportunity to capture what can often be fleeting. Sometimes you may have 5-10 minutes or more of the most spectacular sky you’ve ever seen. Other times you’ll be lucky if it lasts 2. If you’re still fumbling around setting up your camera and tripod it could be over before you’re ready.
3 – Filters are your friend. There is likely to be quite a bit of contrast between the brightness of the sky and the brightness of the foreground. There are two ways to deal with this. One is to take multiple photos with one exposed for the sky and one exposed for the foreground then blending them in Photoshop. The other, and my preferred method is the use of graduated neutral density filters (GNDs) while in the field. My two favorite, both from Singh-Ray, are a 3-stop soft edge GND and a Daryl Benson 3-stop reverse GND. Of those two the reverse GND gets the most use because I photograph seascapes so often.
With GND filters you can more closely balance the exposure across the scene which in turn lessens the amount of post processing time per image. Basically, the more right you get in camera the less fixing and fiddling you need to do in the computer.
Click Here and see what you can see.
Have you ever taken what you thought was a killer landscape photo only to get home and find it unusable, ruined by the dreaded lens flare?
Some lens flare is good, think of those light rays emanating from the sun.
Some lens flare is bad, like the big balls of color in the photo above.
Would you like to know how a few simple steps taken while in the field, combine with a few equally simple steps taken during post processing can pretty much do away with lens flare?
Check out my article on Craftsy.com where I show you how to go from this…
By giving lens flare the finger.
Over the past two weekends I’ve had the pleasure of leading a handful of workshop clients, (one all the way from Jordan!) throughout the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.
From waterfalls to high mountain peaks to beautiful autumn foliage, the WMNF is my Happy Place!