Another year is over and it is that time of the new year when many of us go back and assess our personal successes and failures of the past year. While 2016 was surely an eventful year, we should be grateful to be alive and well, as many were not as fortunate. We have seen a number of both positive and negative changes that affected the world we live in today and how we will be living it in the future. But let’s not focus on the bad – after-all, keeping positive attitude and encouraging healthy, proactive thinking always leads to more fruitful results, especially in the long run. 2016 was a very busy year in the world of photography as well – a lot of new cameras, lenses and gadgets were announced. Nikon finally revealed the long-awaited Nikon D500 and D5 DSLRs, while Canon updated two of its high-end DSLRs with the Canon 5D Mark IV and the 1 DX Mark II. Pentax finally brought us the amazing full-frame K-1. Fuji, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and Sigma have all been keeping busy as well, but the two that definitely stole the show last year were Fuji and Hasselblad, releasing “budget” interchangeable lens medium format mirrorless cameras – the Hasselblad X1D-50c and the Fujifilm GFX 50S, both under the $10K price tag. And when it comes to lenses, we have seen a slew of different lenses for all kinds of needs from all manufacturers, with so many great third party options. I have been barely able to keep up with all these announcements and although I have done my best to produce as many reviews as I possibly can, all the travel and projects I have been involved with ate up the bulk of my time, shifting my priorities significantly. I am grateful for all these opportunities, but above all, I am incredibly thankful for the amazing and patient community of readers and followers of this very site, which has been steadily growing year after year. But enough of this mumbo jumbo, let’s take a look at some of my most favorite photos from 2016!
Nighttime photography is something that a lot of photographers enjoy; I certainly do, along with countless others. Modern cameras can capture more detail at night than we can see with our naked eyes, revealing entire worlds that couldn’t exist otherwise. However, more than almost any other genre, night photography also challenges your camera equipment to its most extreme. In this article, I will go through some of the top lenses for Nikon cameras if you want to take pictures at night, including information about their low-light performance and depth of field. I cover 20 lenses in this article, so it’s pretty extensive — hopefully, you’ll learn something new about the equipment you need in order to capture good star and nighttime landscape photos.
Everywhere in the world, across the course of a year, the sun will be below the horizon just about 50% of the time. Although it can take a while for sunset to fade away completely, it’s safe to say that we spend a huge portion of our lives under dark skies. Normally, nighttime isn’t something that people equate with being awake, of course, but landscape photographers are strange people. In fact, moonlight and the Milky Way can lead to some of the best photos you’ll take, and they are well worth exploring with your camera. In this article, I’ll go through the characteristics that make some lenses better than others for star and nighttime landscape photography.
To culminate more than a year of work, Spencer and I are very excited to announce the release of our first eBook, Creative Landscape Photography: Light, Vision, and Composition. This 149-page Level 3 book dives into the creative side of landscape photography, including everything from finding subjects to composing difficult scenes. There are some exciting details below, so we encourage you to keep reading:
Colorado has been my home for the past 20 years. Having had the chance to travel all over the USA for photography and other personal and professional needs, every time I would come back to Colorado, I would tell myself that there is simply not a better place to live and be. The Centennial State is remarkable in so many ways, that the more I explore it, the more I fall in love with it. Here in Colorado, we have everything from the stunning mountain views of the Rocky Mountains to canyons, plains and deserts – a truly rich and diverse land. Without a doubt, it is a photographer’s paradise. Having been photographing in Colorado for over 10 years now, I decided to show some of its beauty through pictures and hopefully give you an idea about what locations you should visit.
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.
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.
Millions — perhaps billions — of people take pictures every day. Famous places and people have been photographed more times than anyone can count. All of this leads to the deluge of images that we are seeing online and in social media. Every time that a photographer visits a beautiful location for the first time, thousands of people already photographed it under the best possible conditions (and the worst conditions, and everywhere in between). Recently, I have heard more than a few people say that photography has become boring to them; everyone copies everyone else, and it doesn’t seem like there is anything new left to photograph and explore. Is that mindset justified? Can photographers still create unique photos?
Last week, for our How Was This Picture Made? series, I had posted a landscape photograph to share and discuss. Thanks to our PL commentators, Gary Bunton, Brian Webster, and Shane, for their participation and sage commentary on the techniques employed and the overall considerations. Well done!
The name Henri Cartier-Bresson does not immediately remind most people of landscape photography. It shouldn’t; he wasn’t a landscape photographer! Instead, of course, Henri Cartier-Bresson was a street photographer — arguably the founding father of the genre. However, although he rarely took photos of nature, his intimate approach to street photography still has value to people who prefer the company of grand landscapes. One technique is especially worth learning, no matter what genre of photography you do: the decisive moment.