Posts Tagged ‘landscape photography’

Sleeklens Lightroom Workflow Review

February 6th, 2016

Sleeklens is a company with a concept that is not new in the Adobe Lightroom world – providing presets to help us in processing our photographs. I’ve always shied away from using presets, just like I rarely if ever use the Auto tone adjustment built into Lightroom. I’ve always felt that I prefer making all the decisions myself rather than letting the computer make them in the case of Lightroom Auto tone or a designer make them in the case of presets.

But I recently received an evaluation copy of one of the Sleeklens presets workflows and have been using them on several photographs I’m working on. Sleeklens has a variety of presets for different purposes. The collection I received is titled ‘Through the Woods Workflow.’

Content

Through the Woods Workflow consists of forty-seven presets and twenty-nine brushes.

Presets

The Presets are global adjustments, affecting the entire image. Once installed they are in their own folder in the Presets area of the Development module screen. The presets are applied just like any other preset – namely, clicking on them.

The presets are organized into seven groups – All in One, Base, Exposure, Color Correction, Tone/Tint, Polish and Vignette. The All in One presets can affect the Basic, Tone Curve, HSL and Split Toning adjustment groups. Base mostly affects the Basic adjustments and occasionally the Tone Curve. One Base preset affects HSL and Split Toning. Exposure sets either Basic or Tone Curve. Color Correction adjustments are applied to HSL. Tone/Tint plays with Vibrance and Split Toning. Polish mostly adjusts Basic. And Vignette sets Post-Crop Vignetting in Effects. One thing that is missing is settings that utilize the new Dehaze adjustment in Effects.

Brushes

The brushes are used with the Adjustment Brush, Graduated Filter or Radial Filter. There are five groups – Basics, Color, Effects, Haze and Light. The brushes are applied by selecting the effect and painting with the Adjustment Brush or creating the Graduated or Radial Filter. Continue reading “Sleeklens Lightroom Workflow Review” »

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The Four Pillars of Landscape Photography Presentation at Saddleback Church

June 22nd, 2015

This past Saturday, June 20, 2015, I had the privilege of being the presenter for the meeting of the photography group at Saddleback Church.  There were more than 100 enthusiastic photographers of all levels in attendance.  We all went strong for three hours, discussing the landscape photographic process from planning to print.

There were many request for a summary of the presentation so I’ve made it available on the link below.  I hope this is helpful

The Four Pillars of Landscape Photography Presentation Summary

Visit the Ralph Nordstrom Photography website.

inspiration-point-panorama-utah-131018

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Creating Images with Impact – Dynamic Range of the Medium

March 29th, 2015

We’ve all seen those photographs that stop us in our tracks, that inspire us, that speak to us. Some photographs seem to have a special power, a special presence. Often times we hear ourselves saying, “Wow.” They have qualities that make them stand apart from other photographs. These are images with impact.

The masters of landscape photography seem to have the ability to capture a special quality of light in their photographs. It doesn’t matter whether they use film or shoot digital, their images stand out.

There are certain things about these images that do more than just appeal to us – we are drawn into to them. They capture our imaginations, stir our interests and perhaps show us moments in nature we could only hope to experience. We want to linger with them, explore them, take them in, get lost in them.

Without a doubt these photographs have compositions that are very strong, are bathed in fantastic light and have technical qualities of exposure and sharpness that are perfect. These are all decisions that the artist makes in the field, decisions that are critical to a strong image.

In the days of film, a good portion of the magic was done in the darkroom. That’s where their genius really became apparent. And it hasn’t changed today. We don’t actually have dark rooms to work in, closed rooms with the strange array of mysterious orders and the soft, dim yellow lighting. Today we have powerful software running on even more powerful computers. But really, how is that different from what the film Masters did in the darkroom? I don’t believe it is. I can’t think of anything that’s been done with “Photoshopped” photographs that hasn’t already been done in the darkroom. It’s probably a lot easier to do it in Photoshop but in the end, both the chemical darkroom and the electronic darkroom serve the same end, that being creating those “Wow” images.

In this series of posts I want to spend more time considering some techniques you can apply in the darkroom that will add impact to your images.

Use the Full Dynamic Range of Your Medium

The first darkroom technique I would like to discuss is the importance of using the full dynamic range of your medium. This is not something new. When Ansel Adams developed the zone system it was precisely for this purpose – to use the full dynamic range of the black and white negative and ultimately the black and white print. But what exactly does it mean to use the full dynamic range of the medium. Let me illustrate with an Ansel Adams image I have loved for many years, one I’m privileged to be able to live with in my home – “Moon and Half Dome.”

Adams-moon-and-half-dome-1960

In this exquisite photograph if you are able to examine an original closely you will notice that the shadow on the left may look like it is totally black but actually there is subtle detail. However, there are some very small areas that are pure black. Also, the moon and the bright parts of Half Dome may look like they are pure white but a closer look will reveal detail in these areas also. This photograph takes full advantage of the full dynamic range of the paper, from the blackest black to the whitest white.

Continue reading “Creating Images with Impact – Dynamic Range of the Medium” »

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Making a Photograph – Personal Style

December 12th, 2014

Personal style. What is it? I like to bring up the topic of personal style in my workshops. I think it’s important to understand that each of us has a personal style whether we know it or not. It comes from the fact that each of us is a unique individual and sees the world in our own personal way. Our skill levels are different. Our life experiences are different. Our interests are different. And that leads to each of us having our own individual world view.

hidden-valley-130119

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Twelve Tips for Buying Your Next Lens

July 14th, 2012

A student of mine asked me for help in selecting a telephoto lens – what to look for and what to avoid.  I put down a few ideas for him and thought that maybe you might also find this topic interesting.

Sooner or later we all buy a lens or two or five or six.  I currently have four lenses in my camera bag – a wide angle zoom (17-40 mm, f/4), a mid range zoom (24-70 f/2.8), my workhorse lens (24-105 mm, f/4) and a telephoto zoom (70-200mm, f 2.8).

I have two ground rules for buying lenses that I have shared with many people.

1.  There must be a demonstrated need.  In other words, if you can’t realize your vision because you’re missing a particular lens then it’s time to consider adding one.  Students, friends and colleagues ask me if I think they should buy a hot new lens.  I always ask them, “What would this lens permit you to do that you can’t do with your current lenses?”  Often, the answer is that it does nothing new for them, they just think it’s a cool lens.

2.  Purchase the best glass you can afford.  You will go through several camera bodies in your career but you’ll never outgrow a high quality lens.

So those are the ground rules but what else is there?

death_valley_sunrise_2012

Continue reading “Twelve Tips for Buying Your Next Lens” »

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Making a Photograph – Ansel Adams “Moonrise”

June 30th, 2012

I’m reading Ansel Adams’ book, “Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs” and finding renewed inspiration in his work.  I must admit I get a little tired of the fuss over Adams in “Outdoor Photographer” magazine, a clear ploy to sell more issues.  But when I return to the master himself and read his words I am fired up with renewed commitment to making fine photographic images.

Moonrise

“Moonrise,” the extremely popular photograph of the full moon rising over Hernandez, New Mexico, is the one I’d like to talk about in this post.

Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941

This iconic photograph almost didn’t happen.  From the time Adams saw this image, set up his 8X10 view camera, ‘guessed’ at the exposure and triggered the shutter, the light was almost gone.  In the seconds it took to reverse his film holder to get a backup shot it was gone.

I say he ‘guessed’ the exposure because he didn’t have time to do the careful spot metering and exposure calculation that is at the heart of his zone system.  He didn’t have time to even dig his spot meter out.  But he realized the moon was in full daylight and he new its luminance was 250 candles per square foot.  He placed the moon in Zone VII, set his f/stop and shutter speed accordingly, composed, focused and pressed the cable release.

This image required the full range of his considerable technical skills, both in developing the negative and making the print.  He speaks of the uncertainty in developing the negative to pull out the detail in the shadows and how difficult the negative was to print, how no two prints came out exactly the same.  What becomes very clear in his technical discussion is the extent of his enormous technical skills and the decisions he made in the field when determining the exposure, in the darkroom when developing the negative to control the dynamic range, and again in the darkroom when making the prints.  And the end result was this incredibly expressive image.

But all of this technical prowess was the servant or even the slave to his artistic vision.  When he glanced out the window of  his Cadillac while returning to his hotel in Santa Fe and saw the moon, the clouds and the sleepy village with the tombstones in the glow of the setting sun he knew at that moment what the final image would look like.  For Adams, previsualization was the master of the creative process.  From the instant the car came to a stop and he rushed to set up his gear and capture the moment, everything he did, every decision he made served his vision of what he would make from this moment.

And that’s what I find so inspiring, the focus of all of the technical skills we acquire, master and perfect into the realization of the connection we have with our world.  For it is that connection and the skill to share it with others that makes us artists.

Join me on an upcoming workshop.  Click here for more details.

To see more of my photographs click here.

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Making a Photograph – Vision

June 29th, 2012

“This photograph speaks to me.”

The photographs that have a strong impact on us speak to us.  The photographer has created an image that moves us.  Did he or she have something in mind when making the photograph?  Probably so.  Strong images just don’t happen by accident.

As one grows as a photographer one’s vision becomes clearer.  One begins to discover who they are and what they have to say.  And as one’s technical and aesthetic skills develop, skills used in both the field and the darkroom, one’s ability to express their vision becomes stronger.

The artist’s vision is an important element of their art.  The clearer an artist is on what his or her vision is the more expressive their art becomes.

If you’re not clear on what your vision is, live with your photographs.  Become aware of what you associate with them, what stories they are telling you, how they make you feel.  And as your vision emerges nurture it, strengthen it, let it speak through you and your art.  And then your photographs will also speak to others.

death_valley_sunrise_2012

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The Same Ol’ Question

June 18th, 2012

Every time I do a show I get asked multiple times if my photographs are manipulated.  My answer is always, ‘Yes, of course.’  The hidden expectation is that photographs are supposed to be accurate depictions of the scene that is photographed.  This expectation is not new.  And any photographer that seeks to make art rather than documentation must face this question.

Take Ansel Adams for instance….

ansel_adams_winter_sunrise

The above iconic Ansel Adams photograph is titled Winter Sunrise.  It is of Mt Whitney and Lone Pine Peak above the Alabama Hills with Adams’ characteristic dramatic lighting.

There’s an interesting excerpt regarding this photograph from his book, “Examples, The Making of 40 Photographs.”

“The enterprising youth of the Lone Pine High School had climbed the rocky slopes of the Alabama Hills and whitewashed a huge white L P for the world to see.  It is a hideous and insulting scar on one of the great vista of our land, and shows in every photograph made of the area.  I ruthlessly removed what I could of the L P from the negative (in the left-hand hill), and have always spotted out any remaining trace in the print.  I have been criticized by some for doing this, but I am not enough of a purist to perpetuate the scar and thereby destroy – for me, at least – the extraordinary beauty and perfection of this scene.”

It seems the debate raged in Adams’ day and continues today.  I guess you know where I stand.  Oh, and for those ‘purists’ that revere Adams, if they only knew.

Winking smile

Go ahead.  Express yourself in your photographs.

Join me on an upcoming workshop.  Click here for more details.

To see more of my photographs click here.

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Mastering Exposure–Histograms Part 4

May 2nd, 2011

In this series of articles we’ve been exploring the histogram.  In the first two articles we discussed what it is.  Now we’re looking at different types of histograms and exploring how to work with them both in the field and during the post processing.  If you want to review or catch up, here are the links to the preceding three posts.

Mastering Exposure – Histograms Part 1: Introduction

Mastering Exposure – Histograms Part 2:  A Closer Look

Mastering Exposure – Histograms Part 3: The Rocky Mountain Histogram

In this article I want to discuss my favorite histogram, the Mole Hill histogram.  I like this one because so much can be done with it in the post processing.  Subtle colors and tonalities can be revealed in soft radiant light.  It lends itself to some of the most creative and expressive images.

Read on and we’ll look at what it is, the conditions in which it occurs, how to photograph it and how to work with it in the post processing to reveal the scene in all of its hidden glory.

Continue reading “Mastering Exposure–Histograms Part 4” »

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Photography Tutorial–Composition

December 6th, 2010

Why study composition?  Edward Weston said, and I paraphrase, that studying the laws of composition before taking a photograph is like studying the laws of gravity before going for a walk.

Well, sometimes I feel like a toddler when it comes to composition.  And if you’ve been around a toddler as they’re learning to walk you know how diligently they study the laws of gravity and why they have such thick padding on their rumps.  There’s a reason they’re called ‘toddlers.’

I’m always searching for new ways to present the principles of composition in my photography workshops.  And I think I’ve come up with an approach that will get some of the people seeing the world differently, at least that’s the goal.  I like to challenge my workshop attendees to stretch themselves and expand the way they see.

Continue reading “Photography Tutorial–Composition” »

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