There are a lot of instructional books on how to use Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and the like. They provide a comprehensive and in-depth review of the various adjustments and filters available in these powerful tools. And as such they serve as excellent references. I own many of these fine books.
Now, a lot of workflows are built around the concept of seeing what needs to be fixed next and fixing it. I advocate a more structured approach; namely, fix the tonality first, then the hue and finally the saturation. See my recent post on Workflow. But I often hear the statement, “I look at my photograph and just don’t know what to do.” Many people often don’t know where to begin.
So I want to take a different approach. I want to look at an image and identify what it needs and then talk about the various techniques for achieving it. In other words, I want to start with the question, “What makes a compelling photograph?” and go from there. It doesn’t help to know all of the tools and tricks available in Lightroom and Photoshop if you don’t know when to use them.
We’ll start with this image. It is photographed in the Mesquite Flats Dunes of Death Valley. The dunes provide an inspiring variety of compositions and ligh. (You can click on this and all other images in this post to enlarge it.)
Let’s start by examining the images tonality and see what improvements can be made.
Continue reading “Making a Photograph – Black and White Points” »
Tags: Adobe, black point, Blacks, brightness, contrast, Curves, dynamic range, exposure, Levels, Lightroom, luminance, PhotoShop, Photoshop Elements, phtograph, tonality, white point, Workshops
Posted in How To Articles, Lightroom, Photoshop | Comments (7)
There are about as many definitions of “fine art photography” as there are people who call themselves “fine art photographers.” For many of us, fine art photography is an expression of our view of the world. Much of what we see in the world is captured in the images we capture in the field. But that’s not the whole story. Why? Because the true expressive quality of our photographs comes to life in the post processing – the digital darkroom if you will.
Continue reading “Lightroom Tutorial – Workflow” »
Tags: brightness, color, contrast, exposure, fine art, hue, Lightroom, luminance, photography, Post processing, saturation, tonality, workflow, Workshops
Posted in How To Articles, Lightroom, Workflow | Comments (4)
In the previous post in this series I presented the idea that calendar art is a worthy first goal for serious photographers. (Read Taking Your Photography to the Next Level.) And aside from the fact that the subject matter of calendar art may be fairly run of the mill, the technical and aesthetic qualities are generally excellent.
In that post I ended with this thought:
Calendar art is about the subject of the photograph. The photographer is transparent. In fine art photography the influence of the artist becomes more apparent.
Continue reading “Taking Your Photography to the Next Level – Fine Art” »
Tags: art, artist, communication, creative vocabulary, fine art, interpretation, personal style, photography, Workshops
Posted in How To Articles | Comments (1)
Often times when out shooting with other photographers I hear them say, “I wish I had brought my grad ND filter.” Or maybe they didn’t have the lens they needed. “Where is it?” I ask. “It’s back in my hotel room,” is their response. “Why didn’t you bring it with you?” “I didn’t think I would need it,” or “It’s too heavy.”
Truth to tell, I don’t understand the rationale of selecting the gear you think you might need when going out on a shoot. Why not take it all? I suppose if you have 20 lenses (I exaggerate) you can’t take them all with you. But a normal complement of gear that gives you the flexibility you need isn’t that hard to pack and carry.
Continue reading “Be Prepared” »
Tags: camera bag, Canon, landscape, Nikon, photography, photography gear, Workshops
Posted in How To Articles, Journal | Comments (0)
I read a great series of articles by George Barr on taking the next step in photography. They were passed along to me by a good friend – Brian Graham. I have some early thoughts on what Barr proposes.
In his articles he defines six or seven steps for both technical and aesthetic growth in photography. His articles define each step, discuss ways you can determine what step you’re in and gives ideas on how to advance to the next step.
Continue reading “Taking Your Photography to the Next Level” »
Tags: calendar, fine art, photograph, photography, Workshops
Posted in Composition, Expoure, Histogram, How To Articles | Comments (2)
Photography is all about light. In nature photography we study the weather, time of day and time of year to learn all we can about light. And the more diligently we study light the more it pays off.
One of my favorite types of light is alpenglow. There is a bit of confusion about what it is. Many people think it’s the sunlight shining on the mountain peaks during sunset, after the valleys below are in shadow. And while this is beautiful, that’s not it.
Continue reading “Alpenglow” »
Tags: alpenglow, Cedar Breaks, light, National Monument, photography, sunset, Utah, Workshops
Posted in How To Articles, Light | Comments (0)
Brooks Jensen published a very provocative article in the current issue of Lenswork. He delves into a topic that I’ve thought about ever since I first picked up a digital camera. It relates to the question of whether or not it is OK to manipulate photographs. I’ve always contended that it is not only OK but, at least for the kind of photography I do, it is required. The photographs I create reflect my interpretation of the natural world around us. Therefore, their subjects and contents are going to reflect something of me.
Jensen goes several steps farther by identifying three major types of photography – Documentary, Personal Narrative and Imaginative. Jensen describes Documentary photography as telling “someone else’s story.” What a great way of describing it. Clearly, then, in documentary photography, the photographer strives to be as true to the subject as possible and minimize or eliminate his or her own coloration or bias. The goal is total objectivity.
Continue reading “What Else Things Are” »
Tags: imagination, landscape, manipulation, photography, reality, Workshops
Posted in Journal, Photographer as Artist, Photography as Art | Comments (0)
One of the things that we landscape photographers pay a lot of attention to is light. In fact, it is my belief that the study of landscape photography is a never ending study of light. And that’s a good thing because there’s so much to learn.
Now, I must confess – my analytical mind needs to break things down to help my creative mind better recognize and capitalize on great light. So get ready ‘cause here come a series of blog posts on light.
What Color Is a Cloud?
The first thing I want to look at is Color. Now, we’re all pretty familiar with red, green and blue, even cyan, magenta and yellow. I don’t want to talk about color in that way. We could discuss the color wheel and that would be informative but, well, not all that exciting. I’d like to kick this off by asking a simple question…
Continue reading “Mastering Light – Color” »
Tags: color, light, photography, Workshops
Posted in How To Articles, Light | Comments (0)
I’ve been printing, matting and framing for the past several days ,getting ready for the first shows of 2011. I have a lot of new photographs so this is both a busy and an exciting time.
It occurred to me that I went through a lot of trial and error when I first started this process of preparing photographs to display and sell, and that it just might be helpful to some if I shared the system I finally worked out.
Continue reading “Preparing Photographs–Printing, Matting and Framing” »
Tags: frame, framing, mat, mat board, matting, photograph, photography, Workshops
Posted in How To Articles | Comments (4)
Backing up our photos is something we put off doing because it can be a lot of work and expensive. And we think it’s something we’ll never need.
I got motivated to come up with a backup scheme about a year ago when I thought I had lost all my photograph files from 2010. I had several days of panic and was able to recover most of them from a hodgepodge of backups scattered randomly here and there. I didn’t have anything systematic in place and fortunately they weren’t my portfolio files, the ones I sell. (After it was all over I discovered all the files had inadvertently been moved to another folder. They hadn’t been deleted after all.)
It took a while to come up with the backup strategy that I shared with you in a post last month. Here’s a link to that post. Check it out. I received some valuable comments with some good ideas from others.
Link to Backup Your Photos
It Happened – Duh Duh Duh Duuuuuuuuh
Continue reading “The Backup Saga Continues” »
Tags: backup, phorography, Workshops
Posted in How To, Journal | Comments (0)