It’s been a while, almost 5 months since my last post, so lets see where the typing leads me and if I can still remember how to write an engaging article. Now I do remember a little thing called a “pre-nup” that I have with the readers of PL. It kind of goes like this: “I’ll try and give you some of my thoughts and ideas on how I do things, you might read or not read it all, however you will try and leave anything behind you don’t find useful in this article and move on with your life without attacking me”. Phew! Now we got that over we can start – LOL (Laughing Out Loud), you are welcome to try that once in a while :)
Camera shake can be a real hassle and pain when shooing off a tripod. Sometimes camera shake can be completely eliminated with a couple of simple steps and other times, it can be quite painful and sometimes even impossible to deal with. How does one reduce camera shake? Are remote shutter releases helpful in reducing camera shake? Is it possible to eliminate it completely? Since I see this issue so often in the field, I decided to write a detailed article that deals specifically with the challenges of dealing with camera shake when shooting from a tripod.
Recently I returned to one of my enduring passions: shooting film. I’m Italian and I recently moved to California. In Italy, it’s really hard to find a good lab to develop film and it’s even more difficult to find rolls of film of the brands I like. Here in the US, I felt reborn with new joy: everything is so much easier when it comes to shooting film. All over the world shooting film is getting more popular, it’s in fashion again, and it’s even possible to find photographers returning to analog, ditching digital for paid jobs. In Italy, the business of photography completely revolves around shooting digital: almost no one thinks about film anymore. So for me, it was amazing to take my four 120 rolls to the lab to discover they could be processed only after the order for the previous customer was finished… the lab told me a well-known company with a blue logo based in the Bay area had just delivered a big batch of 70 rolls for processing! I was kind of sad when I discovered my batch was delayed by 48 hours (beyond the usual 24 hours needed for developing, printing the contact sheet and scanning everything in high resolution), but I finally received my processed rolls and you can see some results in the images of this article.
Have you heard of the Orton Effect? This post-processing technique has been around since the 1980s, if not earlier, but the trend has exploded tremendously in the past few years. If you haven’t heard of it, you aren’t alone – it only recently began to gain mainstream popularity. And yet, in some ways, the Orton Effect is swallowing the modern world of landscape photography. This is barely an exaggeration; after seeing the Orton Effect in practice, you should be able to spot it in at least a third of the trending 500px landscape photos, as well as many winning photo contest entries. This article covers all the basics of the Orton Effect, including a tutorial on how to implement it in your own images – and a discussion on why you may not want to do so.
When photographers talk about diffraction, they are referring to the fact that a photograph grows progressively less sharp at small aperture values – f/16, f/22, and so on. As you stop down your lens to such small apertures, the finest detail in your photographs will begin to blur. With good reason, this effect can worry beginning photographers. However, if you understand how diffraction impacts your photographs, you can make educated decisions and take the sharpest possible photographs in the field.
While photographing famous landmarks and photo spots is usually a safe way to obtain a beautiful photograph, being able to scout and find own subject to photograph is a skill that many of us have to acquire at some point. Identifying good light, finding the right angle for proper framing and composition, pre-visualizing the end result and using the right tool for the job in order to create a unique and compelling image takes years of practice in the field. This is the area that many of us, including myself, struggle with the most. Despite the difficulties and the challenges, it is important to keep on advancing the “photographer’s eye”. Sometimes we look at a beautiful image and really like it, but have a hard time understanding exactly what in particular attracts us to it. Is it the beautiful light, the composition or the subject itself? An untrained eye often sees certain elements of an image, while neglecting to see other, equally important elements that make an image successful. Being able to see and visualize all the minute details in order to properly execute a photograph is something we all need to continuously work on, because those details really do matter. Personally, I find great help in “dissecting” a solid photograph, to try to understand what kind of thought process and work went into making it. During this process, I pay close attention to everything from light, framing, composition, colors, subject, area of focus and other details, so that I can apply that knowledge in the field. In this article, I would like to present a landscape image that I recently captured in Joshua Tree National Park and go through the process of unveiling everything that went into making this image.
Please note that the below article is compiled from some of the chapters from our upcoming eBook “Creative Landscape Photography” that Spencer Cox and I are currently working on. This will be our first eBook, specifically written on the subjects of Light, Vision and Composition when photographing landscapes.
As we already mentioned in the previous article “Where are my Mid-tones?“, most raw converters apply some hidden adjustments to a raw shot, often resulting in a bumped mid-tone, clipped highlights, and compressed shadows. This is done to make the shot look good, but can also lead to all sorts of confusion. If you are using or planning to use some raw converter, you may want to know what “beautifiers” it applies, and their price.
When the world saw the very first photographs, the idea of being able to capture the world as we see it took off rapidly. In a relatively short period of time, film photography evolved from black and white to color photography. From there, it made motion pictures possible, allowing us to see the world from our couches at home. When the first digital camera was invented, little did the inventors know that it would later revolutionize the world of photography and media in general. Today, billions of images are captured and shared between people and the number of image recording devices is growing at a rapid, unstoppable rate. There are cameras literally everywhere – in our mobile phones, homes, computers, cars and even in wearables like eyeglasses and watches. We trust these devices to give us a glimpse of reality, documented moments of time that we can go back to and review. And yet with the fast growth, ease of access and use of image and video manipulation tools, we have been seeing more footage that can twist reality: whether we are looking at popular magazine covers, Internet sites or news media, the imagery we see is getting harder and harder to trust, since it is being altered, faked or staged. Media turned out to be a powerful tool to influence and manipulate people, which brings up the question and the importance of ethics in photography. Should photography only be allowed to display reality, or is it acceptable to alter images for presentation purposes? And if manipulation is acceptable, what are its limits, if any? These are very hard questions to answer, but with some common sense, we can create a set of ethical rules and guidelines that should help photographers in determining what’s acceptable and what’s not.
We’ve gotten several emails, the most recent and the best phrased one from a reader of Photography Life, with questions along the following lines:
What happened to my mid-tones? I set the exposure using exposure meter, opened the shot in Adobe Lr (or Adobe Camera Raw, or some other converter) … and the shot looks overexposed and everything from mid-tone and up looks very flat. If I shoot in RAW+JPEG, the JPEG looks OK, while the RAW is not. Should I expose lower?
We’ve decided that the reply to this question belongs here.
When photographic architecture, landscapes and even people, photographers often desire to increase detail and resolution, capture a wider angle or create a unique look that is impossible to achieve with standard camera gear. That’s where panorama photography comes in – it can be a great technique to utilize in order to accomplish such goals. Although the concept and the technique itself are fairly straightforward, panoramic photography often confuses many photographers. We often get many inquiries about this topic from our readers and one of the most frequently asked questions is about the specific type of gear to buy in order to produce stunning panoramas. And that’s certainly one of the biggest myths about panoramic photography – you rarely ever need such gear! Most of the panoramas I have stitched so far have been done without panoramic gear and although I do own a panoramic slider, I rarely ever get to use it. Read on to find out why!