landscape

Landscape photography shows spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. Landscape photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes.

Nikon’s New Feature: Automatic Autofocus Lens Calibration

Posted by on Apr 23, 2016 in canon, Fashion, Featured, landscape, nikon, Photography Tips, portrait

Nikon’s New Feature: Automatic Autofocus Lens Calibration

If we looked at the long list of annoyances in photography (and it is long), few would contest that sitting right near the top would be autofocus problems. There is nothing quite like special kind of fury felt when coming back from a shoot and loading up those image on a big screen only to find the majority are just enough out of focus to be unusable. Of course, this happens more frequently for some types of shooters than others; Landscape photographers shooting at infinity likely won’t have the problem quite to the same extent as a portrait or wedding photographer shooting at f/2 or shallower, but the problem is malignant. It’s one of the reasons we sing the praise of tethering and urge you to do it as much as possible, and why we care so much about being able to program buttons for single-press 100% zoom – so we can quickly analyze in-field when without a tether station. However, even when tethering and checking focus, that just tells you if you’re off; showing the symptoms rather than administering the cure. At least, however, the diagnoses is generally straightforward – your autofocus needs tuning. Just like any piece of machinery cameras and lenses go wrong sometimes and need calibration, and the problem is that most photographers don’t ever address autofocus calibration. In fact, the problem is of pandemic proportions. It’s somewhat understandable because it’s a bit of a geeky thing, and the traditional ways to calibrate are geeky endeavors, even if easy and inexpensive. You can buy a simple and straight-forward calibration tool (and should), and most cameras have menu options that allow you to do the fine tuning with these kits in no time. Lens Calibration tool example. Get this one as used by our Jay Cassario here. To be fair, these systems aren’t perfect, and many of these systems allow for AF fine tuning to only affect a single focal length and distance, but in my experience, it tends to be worth it. That said, Sigma – surprise, surprise – is doing it well and better with their dock. But Nikon is stepping up to the plate with their new Auto Autofocus calibration system to be found on their D5 and D500 cameras. The new cameras will be the first to offer the option, but there is hope that Nikon will be able to usher in the feature to other camera models via a firmware update. Essentially the Auto AF fine tuning just cuts out a few steps of the tuning process, but it still requires you to set some ‘controls’ when using it. Nonetheless, the controls required aren’t much, and you can do it in the field, on the fly. Now, mirrorless cameras are generally less symptomatic of these AF problems due to how they focus – right off the sensor, so it sort of...

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Tips for Processing Winter Landscapes in Lightroom

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in Featured, landscape, lightroom, Photography Tips

Tips for Processing Winter Landscapes in Lightroom

I see a lot of winter. The interior of Alaska, where I live, gets a solid six months, often seven, of the white stuff. Essentially anytime from October to mid-April, we are likely to have snow on the ground. Unless I put the camera down for most of the year (which I don’t), I end up with a lot of photos on my computer of snowy mountains, forest, and tundra. Come the early-spring, brown season, I have a lot of computer work to take care of. Though the method of processing winter images is largely the same as many other types of outdoor images, you’ve got to approach snowy images with cold focus (insert laughter here). I jest, but actually the cold, and bright blue tones of winter, are elements that should not be forgotten (or overdone). My Approach When I come at an image in Lightroom, I don’t tackle it with a standard formula. Rather, I consider the time and place I made it, what the landscape looked like, and just as importantly, how it felt. Those memories play an important role in my vision for the final image. With that in mind let’s dive into the first of the three winter images I want to walk you through my processing steps. Brooks Range, Alaska – Early winter On a river trip in early September, down the remote Kelly River of the western Brooks Range, my clients and I were hit by the first snowfall of winter. It started the evening before I made this image, with a few big, wet flakes falling from the overcast sky. By the following morning, my tent, the gravel bar on which we were camped, and the entire landscape, was covered in six inches of fresh snow. The snow was tapering off, and I could see breaks in the clouds where patches of blue sky shone through. It didn’t take long before those patches were turned into beams of sunlight on the mountains. I walked down to the river with my camera, and started making images of the shifting light on the land. This shot came out of that session. The light and color is typical of many winter images, bright, with lots of blue. Take a look at the histogram in the upper right, and you can see how it’s pushed to the right, meaning the image is on the bright side (but no blown-out highlights), exactly what I want with an out-of-camera winter shot. Step One – White Balance The first thing to consider is the white balance. Cloudy days tend to cause warmer tones, and snow, particularly under-exposed snow, can take on a yellowish hue. This can be off-putting, so pushing your white balance toward the blues can help provide a more pleasing, and accurate tonality. In this case, my camera selected an appropriate White Balance in the field,...

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4 Steps on How to Read Images and Learn to Replicate the Results

Posted by on Apr 19, 2016 in Bokeh, canon, Featured, landscape, Photography Tips, photoshop

4 Steps on How to Read Images and Learn to Replicate the Results

Earlier, I wrote an article called: why asking what camera settings were used may not be as helpful as you think, and in it, I touched on the concept of reading an image. Learning to read images – from a technical perspective and not a conceptual one – is something that I believe all photographers must be able to do, as it allows you to get a rough guide on what settings may have been used to create an image. They won’t be the exact settings; but you’re most likely not going to have the exact same lighting environment as what a particular photo was taken in. A wide aperture was used her to achieve a shallow depth of field. Dive in to read an image To begin reading images you must have, at the very least, a good understanding of aperture, shutter speed and to a lesser extent, ISO. You’ll want to understand how these things affect the image in different ways. For example, if you saw an image with a lot of motion blur, you would know from your understanding of shutter speed that a slower shutter speed was used. As you become more proficient with lighting and off-camera flash, you can even read how the subject was lit with artificial lighting, and begin to replicate how it was done. But don’t worry! This article will be focussing on the three major aspects of photography exposure (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) to help you begin your journey to reading images. What shutter speed was used here – a fast or slow one? Step 1: Shutter Speed – Fast or Slow? I find that determining whether a fast or slow shutter speed was used first, can help greatly when it comes to determining aperture and ISO later. The first thing you will want to ask yourself when assessing shutter speed is; was it fast or slow? This can be decided by how much, or how little, motion blur is present in the image, as that is what shutter speed controls. If everything in the image is pin sharp, and there is absolutely no motion blur at all, then a fast shutter speed would have been used. However, if there is a lot of motion blur, then a slow shutter speed was used. Here are some points that you can take out of knowing if the shutter speed is fast or slow: But how fast is a fast shutter speed, and at what point does the shutter speed become slow? To answer this, think of your shutter speed in relation to your subject’s speed. For example, when photographing sports or other fast action, you may find using a shutter speed of 1/1000th is required to freeze your subjects. This is because your subjects are moving quite fast. However, if you were to photograph people walking down the street, you...

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The Top 10 Camera Features Wish List of dPS Readers and Writers

Posted by on Apr 18, 2016 in Featured, landscape, Photography Tips

The Top 10 Camera Features Wish List of dPS Readers and Writers

Brooklyn Bridge picture taken using a remote shutter release and a neutral density filter, which could be eliminated with camera improvements. It is becoming almost cliche, but there has never been a better time to be a photographer. What we can do now with modern digital cameras, without spending that much money, is incredible. Without breaking the bank, you can now get an extremely high resolution digital camera, with low light performance and a dynamic range unheard of just a few years ago, that shoots at speeds measured in multiple frames per second. If that isn’t enough, it will also double as a video camera with HD quality as a bare minimum. It will even send the pictures wirelessly to your phone. It seems ungrateful to ask for more. Still, everything can be improved, can’t it? And just to be clear – when I say improved, I don’t mean adding more megapixels. Or demanding even better low light performance and dynamic range. Or achieving even faster focus and shooting speeds. The manufacturers know everybody wants that stuff, and they seem to be putting all their energy into those areas. But doesn’t it seem like there are features that could be added to cameras that wouldn’t require a technological breakthrough? Or that wouldn’t make your camera cost a fortune? It always seemed that way to me. So I started asking around to other photographers, then I started asking readers, and finally I asked my fellow dPS writers. How would you improve digital cameras? I got some good answers, and have combined them with my own to create a list of 10 new features (a wish list) that could be added to digital cameras to make them better. Here they are, in no particular order: 1. A Small LCD for the Histogram The first improvement is a separate, smaller LCD on the back of the camera. Why? Let me explain. We all know that the best way to evaluate exposure when you are shooting is to look at the histogram. Looking at just the picture on the LCD doesn’t work as well when you are trying to evaluate exposure. But look what happens to the picture on the screen when you add the histogram: On the left, where you have the full picture, you can clearly see it. But once you add the histogram, the picture on the right becomes tiny. It is unusable and tells you nothing. We are essentially forced into a position of having to choose between a picture we can see, or just viewing the histogram (but not both). I’d like to do both. To fix that, you could just put another very small LCD on the back of the screen. It would show only the histogram, so that you could still have a full sized version of your picture. 2. Three Dials When you set the...

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How to Create a Silky Water Effect in Post-Processing without Using Filters or a Tripod

Posted by on Apr 17, 2016 in Featured, landscape, Photography Tips, photoshop

How to Create a Silky Water Effect in Post-Processing without Using Filters or a Tripod

Smooth water effect edited in Affinity Photo using the Live Stacks feature. Even if you don’t shoot landscape photography, photos of waterfalls with the smooth water and glassy appearance are awesome. The gist to achieving this, and I do stand corrected if I have this wrong, is as follows: Slow shutter speeds – the need for a tripod A remote shutter release or your camera’s timer Wide angle lens and the camera settings using a small aperture of f/22, ISO 100 Neutral Density and/or polarizer filters, as you’ll be shooting long exposures during the day Of course the scene and by all accounts patience too However, I personally don’t own ND or polarizer filters. These type of filters are required for long exposures during the day, so that your shutter speeds are slow enough, possibly one minute or more to get that misty look. On top of which, you have to get the exposure right, which requires a bit of math and experimentation. ND filters block out the light in terms of stops. So taking long exposures during the day is an involved process, especially if you want to create that smooth, silky water effect in-camera. But, is there a way to simulate this effect in Photoshop or other post-processing software? Yes there is! It does require that you take multiple shots. I’m not advocating that this technique in post editing is a replacement to going out and achieving long exposures out in the field, far from it. But, I hope this technique may serve as a stepping stone or inspiration to go out and capture silky waters, clouds etc., in-camera. This article will demonstrate how you can achieve a similar result by taking a bunch of photos in continuous mode without using any filters or a tripod. Although, I would recommend you use a tripod. First, I’ll demonstrate this effect using a manual method in Photoshop CS6 (standard version). There is an automated way to do this with the Stack Mode feature, which I believe is in Photoshop CC. If you have previous versions of Photoshop, the Stack Mode feature is only available in extended versions, not standard, unfortunately. However, Gimp has this Stack Mode feature and it’s free. Then, I will compare the manual method in Photoshop with Affinity Photo, using Live Stacks. I was really impressed with this feature. Photoshop manual method Let’s begin. On the day I took these images, I was pressed for time. So I took a series of shots in continuous mode, and handheld the camera while I focused on this part of a small river. I would recommend that you use a tripod and give yourself some time. It will be easier to align the images later. I took a bunch of images in continuous mode of this small river, close-up deliberately for this article. You will need to load your...

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Photographing Strangers | The Art Of The Ask

Posted by on Apr 17, 2016 in Featured, landscape, Photography Tips, portrait

Photographing Strangers | The Art Of The Ask

Going against everything your mother ever taught you as a child, being a photographer means that sometimes you need to approach and talk to strangers. Having proper social and people skills are important parts of being a photographer that are oft overlooked. Even as a landscape photographer, you must – though not as often – deal with people. As a portrait photographer, it helps to have the social awareness to know the proper and least creepy way to approach a stranger and ask to take their photograph. As a female photographer, I think I might have it a little easier than male photographers when approaching strangers and asking for a photograph. I can approach almost anyone and will probably be viewed as unassuming and harmless, whereas a male photographer may have a more difficult time doing so. That doesn’t have to be the case, though. In the following video, an episode in their “These Guys I Know” series, Miguel Quiles and Jeff Rojas share three tips on how to approach a stranger and ask them to take their portrait. All three tips are great, but I think the tip on knowing the right situation to approach someone is key and too often not considered. Sometimes, in the mall, I’ll grab my phone just to avoid being accosted by a salesperson from the center kiosks, but many times they don’t get the hint and will approach me even though I’ve made it very obvious that I am busy, not only because I am on my phone but by my body language. When you’re approaching strangers to ask for a portrait, look at their body language first and then assess the situation. Walking up to someone who is currently yelling at their boyfriend is probably not a good time to ask. Obviously, that is something your common sense should’ve told you intrinsically, but nevertheless, as a photographer, study up on the subtle nuances of body language. It is a skill that will suit you well in. [REWIND: PHOTOGRAPHER’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BODY LANGUAGE]        Share...

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