In a follow-up to a previous article, “A Study in Vision, Light, and Shadows”, I decided to share my thoughts and experiences on my most inspiring topic in photography – light. For simplicity, I decided to write about light in a narrow context from the perspective and experience of a landscape photographer, since outdoors scenes are what I gravitate to. Much of the analysis and discussion that follows is equally applicable to other genres of photography, such as portraits, macro, still-life, and commercial photography. In this article, I will cover broadly what quality of light means for me in landscape photography as well as discuss a variety of scenarios where the scenic photographer can use different properties of light to create a given effect. Please note that this discussion is based on my own personal observations and experiences, which may differ from those of other photographers. My goal is to help beginning landscape photographers understand the different qualities of sunlight and how this instrumental tool can be harnessed to fulfill the visualization process.
Back in August, we started a guest post challenge with our readers, asking to submit content to get $50 for a published article and get a chance to win a Fuji X-T10 kit. A number of great submissions followed and we published a total of 15 articles in total. While all submissions were great (and we thank everyone who participated), one specific post was surely the most talked about. Everyone I know who regularly visits the website would bring up this particular post, because it was unique and the idea behind it was amazing. So choosing the winner this time was relatively easy!
A lot of landscape photographers are interested in focus stacking — combining multiple images of the same scene, each focused at different distances, into a single photo. This is a useful tool to have at your disposal, since it lets you take pictures in more situations than you otherwise could. For example, if elements of your photo are very close to your camera, focus stacking may be the only way to get a sharp shot. Although I don’t use this technique for every photo, it’s something that I keep in mind when I’m taking pictures in challenging conditions. This article gives an overview of focus stacking for landscape photography, including step-by-step instructions on how to focus stack photos in Photoshop. All of these tips are also relevant for other types of photography, not just landscapes.
For most photographers, especially those who shoot landscapes, it is crucial to have a good set of filters at your disposal. Filters come in two types: screw-on filters (attaching directly to your filter threads) and square filter systems (sliding into a holder on the end of your lens). A lot of landscape photographers move to a square filter system over time — they have a wider selection of filters, and they let you move your filters from lens to lens more quickly. The main companies that make square filter systems are Lee, Cokin and HiTech, all of which are well-known among landscape photographers. There are a few other companies in the marketplace, too, including a relatively new brand called NiSi. Recently, NiSi has been contacting photography websites for reviews, and they contacted us as well. I have used the Lee system for a while, and experienced a few problems with it, so I wanted to review these NiSi filters and see how they stack up. This review covers the NiSi filter system, along with a few specific filters.
Landscape photographers often deal with the dilemma of choosing between different types and brands of neutral density and graduated neutral density filters for use in high-contrast situations such as sunrise and sunset, where their cameras might not have enough dynamic range to be able to capture the entire scene. While we are not going to go over each and every brand to see which one performs better, we do want to show the difference in sharpness between glass and resin filters. For this particular test, we used three 0.6 (2 stop) filters from three different manufacturers – NiSi (glass filter), Lee (resin) and HiTech (resin). The latter two are probably the two brands that are used the most among photographers in the field.
Don’t worry folks, I’m not really back. This is just a random post on the fly. The new Olympus EM-1 Mark II has apparently been tested in Iceland recently by various review sites and as I was (coincidentally) recently in Iceland myself shooting with the four year old E-M5 Mark I, I thought I might demonstrate that one might not need the latest and greatest gear to return half decent images.
I have been looking for a small portable alternative to carting my tripod around with me for quite some time now. There have been many occasions when I’ve been out photographing and could have used the support that a tripod provides, but could not be bothered to lug my tripod with me. I have tried using a variety of small tabletop tripods. None of them were strong enough to support a DSLR and heavy lens. Beanbags are cumbersome to carry around as well. This past summer I stumbled upon a Kickstarter campaign for Platypod Pro Max, and I was intrigued. Could this possibly be the answer to my search?
In general, photographers are very good at deciding how much they like someone else’s photo. It isn’t hard — your first reaction to a shot is either positive or negative, and it typically doesn’t change much after that. Things get more complicated, though, when you’re talking about your own work. For me, at least, I find it tough to judge the quality of some photos I’ve taken. Sure, I know when a photo is awful, but what about the other shots? This article covers some tips for looking at your work with a better critical eye.
Lately, you have probably noticed that we have not posted much content on the website. Ever since we had an attack on the site a couple of months ago (where our site was down for a day), I have been planning on upgrading the server infrastructure in order for us to be able to handle much more traffic and potential attacks. So after I got back from New York, I decided to make all the necessary changes, since we are planning to post a lot of great content very soon and I wanted the site to be able to handle it all. As of today, most of the work is complete and we can now finally get back to work! If you have been browsing the website today, you have probably noticed drastic changes to the overall speed and responsiveness of the site. I am happy to report that we are now running the site on a pretty beefy setup that should be able to handle quite a bit of traffic going forward.
During the past few months, both Spencer and I have pretty much switched from our old Lee filter system to a much better (in our opinion) filter system by NiSi. While I have been a fan of Lee filters, I have had a few problems with it in the field, whether it comes to how I use a polarizing filter, or the fact that I find myself having to re-purchase the resin filters, since they constantly get scratched. On one hand it is nice to have resin filters, since they are light and I can carry a single filter with me in a pouch and I am set. On the another hand, how good are these filters if they easily get scratched up and need to be periodically replaced? I have never tried glass filters, but after obtaining a pack of glass filters from NiSi, I might switch going forward. Well, I will save my thoughts to the upcoming NiSi filter system review, but for now, I would like to share the below interview with Macon Leiper of ikan Corporation, which distributes NiSi filters in the USA.