Photography 101: Mystery

The Mysterious Path

Life is a path with a beginning and an end.
Around each bend in that path you’ll encounter mystery and choice.
Plan as you may, the journey you intend as you start down the path,
May be far different from the journey you finish.

Rails. Pondicherry NWR


A Beautiful Landscape…

…With A Little Something Extra.

The view of the Presidential Range as seen from the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorites in New Hampshire.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so..

Mallard On Cherry Pond

More “Extras” can be found HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturate

Foliage again?

That’s right. And until it’s gone and all the leaves are on the ground, welcome to the Jeff Sinon Photography Autumn In Technicolor Blog.

I’m headed to the mountains soon, for what I hope to be a long and fruitful day of photographing this years glorious display of color, in hopes of bringing you new spectacular images.

I’ll be hiking in for sunrise to photograph a grand scenic view, and finishing off the day at the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge for a fall interpretation of my favorite view in New Hampshire.

*   *   *

Until then, here’s some of Mother Nature’s handy-work from a year or two ago.

Color On The Ridge

I’d also like to leave you with something more than a pretty picture, so here are a few tips for photographing all that great fall color.

–   1   –

Use a circular polarizer(CPL)

It’ll help saturate the colors and remove reflections and glare from the often shiny leaves.

However, if you’re trying to capture a wide scene using a wide-angle lens, leave the CPL off. Since the effect of the filter is greatest at 90° to the light source, in this case the sun, you’ll get uneven polarization across the sky.

That takes a lot of work in post processing to try to correct, and I’ve never been 100% happy with my results. THIS image shows how uneven polarization can ruin a shot. In it you’ll see how the sky on the right of the frame is much darker and gets gradually brighter as you look to the left. This is the result AFTER I think I spent an hour trying to”fix” that sky, and I’m still not happy with it. Lesson learned!

So in short, small intimate scenes with no sky, CPL on. Wide scenic vistas with a lot of sky, CPL stays in your bag.

–   2   –

Watch the reds.

The polarizer is great for helping to boost those fall colors, but be careful not to over-do it.

Over saturated reds are probably the most common mistake I see (and have made) in otherwise good photos of autumn.

My Canon cameras are particularly fond of over-saturating the red channel, so I’m constantly checking the histogram.

If your camera is capable of doing so, set the LCD to show the RGB histogram(read the manual, it is your friend) during image preview, and make sure to keep an eye on the histogram for the red channel.

If it’s bunched up on the right, you may have to dial back the exposure a bit.

Over-saturated reds, or any color for that matter, not only don’t look right, you’ll also lose quite a bit of detail in the over-saturated parts of the photo.

If I do find I’ve got over-saturated reds, I’ll run the image through Viveza 2.

By dropping a few control points on the areas of over saturation, I can adjust only the places and colors in the image that I feel need it, without affecting the rest of the image.

(See the power of control points HERE)

The adjustment brush in Lightroom can also be used to tone things down as well.

–   3   –

Embrace drizzly, overcast days.

If you want to see the already brilliant fall color really pop, grab a raincoat for you and your camera and get out there.

The best color is very short-lived, and with limited time to capture it I’m not about to let a little rain stop me.

Some of my best fall images, like this one from last year, were made on days I was constantly wiping water off of my lens.

(Yes, the sky will be boring and give you exposure headaches on overcast days, so include little to none of it in the frame.)

–   4   –

Preventing over-saturation in post processing.

Now that you’ve captured your beautiful fall images it’s time to enhance them to create the feeling and mood you’re after.

There are two steps I’ve found to help prevent me from unleashing over saturated, gaudy looking images on you, my adoring fans.

Everyone wants their fall foliage photos to pop, so the saturation slider is the first thing they reach for.

But the human eye is a tricky thing, so as you’re slowly move that slider to the right a little at a time trying to achieve that pop, your eye very quickly gets use to what it is seeing.

A little looks good, so bump it up another notch and admire your handy-work. Well that looks good, but it need MORE. So you give it another tiny nudge to the right. And on it goes, your eye adapting at every step.

Soon you’ve got colors not from this world, Yikes!

So here’s what I do.

Grab that saturation slider and give it a big shove to the right, right into “that hurts my eyes” territory. Then slowly bring it back until the image looks normal.

Works pretty much every time, giving you an image with vivid, vibrant colors, but not causing visual pain to your viewers.

Lastly, as a safety measure, just to make sure, I’ll walk away from the image. Letting it sit on the computer for a bit, often a few minutes is enough.

If when I come back to it I don’t think “what the hell was I thinking?” I’ll call it done.

*   *   *

Do you have any favorite fall foliage shooting tips that work for you? I’d love to hear them.

Going The Extra Mile

The World Is Awash In Great Photography.

From a deep blue, almost black, in the foreground the mountain layers fade into the distance. Becoming a paler shade of blue as they recede towards the horizon. The sky above layers of deep orange where the mountains meet the sky, fading to a pale yellow.


In these days of digital and the internet, learning the art of photography has never been easier. With so much information available with just a few keystrokes, mastering the technical side of photography is pretty easy these days.

Even the artistic side has become easier. Not necessarily to master, that I think takes an ability to “see” the world in ways other people don’t, a skill that isn’t easily taught. I’m talking about creating well exposed, decently composed photos, above the level of snap-shot. This too has become much easier with the advent of digital.

Look At Me, Look At Me.

Getting your beautiful photos seen is now a piece of cake too.  With sites like Flickr, 500pxFacebook, and of course I can’t forget WordPress, after you’ve learned to make your photographs, getting your images seen by a wider audience than your immediate friends and family is simple. With free sites like these, establishing a web presence is no longer reserved for the advanced amateur or working pro.

Standing Out From The Crowd.

Pink Water Lilies. Bellamy Reservoir.

There is of course a downside to this ease of learning and sharing.  When everyone with a camera is calling themselves a “photographer,” how do you get your images noticed? How can you as a photographer, more importantly, how can your photographs, stand out from the crowd?

Who wants to just have their photos seen?

Who wants to be just another pea in the pod?

Not me!

I want my photos to stand out and make people take notice! I want “Ooooohs!” and “Aaaaahs!” I want people to be drawn into the image, unable to immediately look away. No “brief-glance-then-on-to-the-next” photos for me. If any of my images don’t inspire the viewer to stop and look deeper into the photo, then I feel I’ve failed with that image.

Being good is not good enough.

So for me the answer is simple. You need to “go the extra mile” when making your photographs. Both literally and figuratively, putting in that little bit (okay, sometimes a lot) of extra effort that most people are too lazy, or not imaginative enough think of, can mean the difference between a “ho-hum” photo just like everyone else’s, and something truly different and spectacular.

Get Up, Get Out.

For “Sunrise Mountain Layers,” (top image), first, I was up at 1 a.m. this past Sunday, and on the trail by 2:15. Then it was up a steep, boulder strewn trail, in pitch blackness, lit only by the headlamps worn by myself and my hiking companion. Finally, about two hours later, still 20 minutes before sunrise, I set up my tripod and waited for the scene to unfold.

I have every confidence that few ,if any, saw the sunrise as we did that day. And by putting in the effort, I was there to capture it.

Jump Right In.

Here’s another, slightly less strenuous, though definitely more wet example of “going that extra mile.”

We’ve all seen photos of water lilies before, right? Probably even taken a few yourself, though most likely high and dry from shore I’ll bet. Have you ever thought of emptying your pockets and getting right in the water with them? For “Pink Water Lilies,” I was kneeling in water about 3 feet (1 meter) deep, with my camera on a tripod just a few inches above the surface.

I get a lot wet, and a little muddy when I photography water lilies, and I think my water-lily photographs are different from most because of it. No strenuous pre-dawn hiking involved either.

Be Persistent. 

Another way to go the extra mile is to be persistent.

For a captivating, one of a kind image, unless you’re very lucky, one try is almost never enough.  I’ve been to the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge in northern New Hampshire at least a half-dozen times, one of my all time favorite locations in the state. It’s a 2 1/2 – 3 hour drive, each way, followed by an almost 2 mile hike in to Cherry Pond. Then it’s hike back out, in the dark, followed by the long drive home. Even with all that, I’ll keep going back because I have yet to capture “THE” photograph that sets mine apart from others I’ve seen of this awe-inspiring place.

Standing out takes work, so get to it!

A Favorite Revisited.

The Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge.

One of my favorite views in all of New Hampshire is this one looking out over Cherry Pond towards Mount Washington and the Presidential Range.

Clouds Reflecting On Cherry Pond

Cherry Pond sits on the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge in Jefferson, NH. It’s a beautiful place, and if you ever find yourself in New Hampshire I highly recommend a visit. It’s an easy hike of just under 2 miles along an old railroad bed.

I look forward to returning again and again.

Sunday’s Hidden Treasure

The last of the late day light causes the wispy clouds over Cherry Pond to take on a pinkish hue. The far off blue-green of the mountain range beyond the pond is reflected on the glassy smooth surface of the water.

Canon EOS 7D

Tamron 17-50 f2.8

ISO 100, 1 Second @ f11

Capture Date: 5/19/2012

Another 12 From 12

This weeks weekly photo challenge theme is “My 2012 In Pictures.” 

Well as luck would have it I had already done a post of my favorites from the past year HERE. Let me tell you, it wasn’t an easy task narrowing it down to 20 for that post!


Never one to pass up a challenge, here are another dozen, give or take, images from the past year that I’m rather pleased with.

Don’t forget, there’s still time to vote for your favorite image that I’ve shared this year! 

Details and rules (Please read them carefully) are HERE.